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Mercedes-Benz officially a top 10 car brand, but BMW and Audi are closing the gap as 2020 new-car sales data shows

Mercedes-Benz came out as the most-popular premium car brand in 2020, led by its strong-selling A-Class.

Mercedes-Benz has once again emerged as the most popular premium brand in Australia, notching 29,455 (-7.9%) new vehicle sales in 2020 that is also enough to catapult it into the overall top 10 list - the first time it has achieved this feat since 2002.

In a surprise though, it wasn’t the GLC SUV (5799, -14.4%) or C-Class (4603, -50.5%) that took top honours for Mercedes-Benz, but the A-Class hatch and sedan on 6054 (+29.1%) new registrations, which were topped by the AMG-fettled A45 and A35 versions in 2020.

After a strong year and bucking the downward sales trend, BMW Australia managed to find slightly more customers in 2020 with 23,520 sales, compared to the 23,307-unit tally of 2019, thanks in part to its strong product rollout.

The Bavarian brand’s best-selling model remained the X3 SUV, which found 4360 (-4.9%) buyers last year, while its new-gen 3 Series (3406, +8.6%) continues to sell well.

Not to be outdone though, Audi also broke new ground in 2020, increasing its volume by one per cent to 15,868 sales.

Audi Australia’s growth was no doubt spearheaded by the launch of a bevy of new Audi Sport models such as the RS6 Avant and RS Q3 Sportback, as well as the return of the RS3 and R8, though the brand’s best-selling model was the Q3 crossover (4090, +441.7%).

Lexus meanwhile, dropped 8.0 per cent to 8846 overall sales, with its best-seller being the NX SUV (3518, +1.4%).

Interestingly, 33.1 per cent (or around 2928 units) of Lexus’ volume sold last year were with petrol-electric powertrains, which are available across its line-up barring the RC coupe, LC Convertible and LX large SUV.

The recently-rebooted Genesis (229, +122.3%) brand continued to grow its audience thanks to the launch of its first SUV, the GV80 (52 sales), as well as the new-generation G80 (59, +42.2%), though it still has a way to go before challenging larger marques.

Porsche also had a positive year, bumping its sales up 2.0 per cent to 4243 units, spearheaded by the Macan (2158, +7.4%) mid-size SUV.

The rest of the premium brands in Australia also struggled to find growth as the market was ravaged by complications brought about due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Jaguar shed nearly half its volume, dropping 41.7 per cent to 1326 sales as all its models fell by double-digit amounts. The worst performer was the F-Type that sold just 42 (-53.8%) units in 2020.

Volvo also had a softer year, though shed just 1.0 per cent of volume to 7700 compared to 2019. The Swedish brand’s best seller is now the XC40 (3229, +13.0%), which overtook the XC60 (2858, -16.1%) in 2020.

Towards the bottom of the premium brand table however, was Alfa Romeo, who struggled in a difficult year notching just 734 sales (-17.6%), though the late-in-2020 launch of the facelifted Giulia (193, -36.3%) sedan is expected to renew interest in the Italian marque.

The most popular premium brands of 2020

RankingBrandSalesVariance %
1Mercedes-Benz29,455-7.9
2BMW23,520+0.9
3Audi15,868+1.0
4Lexus8846-8.0
5Volvo7700-1.0
6Porsche4243+2.0
7Jaguar1326-41.7
8Alfa Romeo734-17.6
9Genesis229+122.3