'I believe premium cars will soon grab a third of the new car market’

Mike Rutherford talks about the history and rise of the premium-brand cars in the UK car market

It used to be that premium cars were unaffordable and inaccessible to motorists on low to medium incomes (that’s most of  ’em).

Not any longer. True, such vehicles aren’t cheap. But many ooze value for money and are wise investments thanks to comparatively strong resale values. No wonder more than one in four factory-fresh cars sold in Britain today are full-blown premium-brand models. Regardless of how posh or modest your street is, you will see such motors in it.

Best luxury cars on sale

That’s led some to suggest that premium products are becoming as common as muck, shedding their cachet and exclusivity. But their makers counter by explaining that rocketing production volumes result in favourable economies of scale, which in turn lead to more affordable (not cheap) list prices – minus discounts – for consumers.

Most important of all, millions of kids who grew up merely dreaming of possessing premium-brand cars can now, for not unreasonable prices, possess them. Why would a son or daughter settle for the modest automotive marque their dad used to have, when they can own the comparatively glamorous brand their favourite musician, actor or footballer has? They wouldn’t.

The delicious reality is that if you’re in full-time employment, over 25 and have a decent no-claims bonus, you’ll probably find it easier than you imagined to jump on the premium bandwagon. If you’ve around £50 a week to spend on wheels, you’re on course to lease a factory-fresh premium car – albeit one that’s small and with a moderate spec. Despite registrations being down last year, around 666,000 of us acquired unused premium cars in 2017.

Traditionally, the list of top 10 selling cars in Britain has been dominated by accessible, cheap ’n’ cheerful superminis and hatches like the Fiesta and Astra. But the Mercedes A-Class has taken up what looks like permanent residence in the top 10. As has the C-Class. The 3 Series is threatening to join them.

Put another way, Merc and BMW premium mid-size saloons are now comfortably outselling non-premium Ford Mondeos and Vauxhall Insignias.  

The right premium car with a healthy discount could end up costing less in buying/standing/running/depreciation costs than the wrong mainstream model. That’s part of the reason why I believe premium cars will soon grab a third of the new car market, and possibly even go on to steal 50 per cent of it.

Given the chance, most people would rather own a TAG than a Timex watch... a Bosch not a Bush kitchen appliance... an Audi, BMW, Jag, Land Rover, Lexus or Merc over pretty much any non-premium car out there. C`an you blame ’em?

Do you think affordable monthly payments and social media exposure are driving premium car sales up, or do you have a different theory? Have your say below.

Most Popular

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox
Dacia Duster gear lever
News

Driving test update to preserve the manual gearbox

With more drivers learning in autos and electric cars, the DVSA is looking to update the driving test so people can still drive manuals in future
16 Jun 2021
Exclusive: Jaguar’s luxury reinvention to start from £100k
Thierry Bollore - Jaguar I-Pace
Jaguar

Exclusive: Jaguar’s luxury reinvention to start from £100k

New boss Thierry Bollore reveals that Jaguar will be reinvented as a luxury car brand to take on Bentley, with the design of a new family already sign…
22 Jun 2021
‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’
opinion: charging
Opinion

‘The 2030 combustion engine ban is just around the corner – and we’re running out of time’

Andy Palmer sees electric car uptake revving-up in the UK but says targeted investment is needed to prevent a stall…
22 Jun 2021
New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 2021 review
Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 - front
Volkswagen Golf GTI Hatchback

New Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 2021 review

The new special edition Volkswagen Golf GTI Clubsport 45 is one of the best cars ever to wear the GTI badge
23 Jun 2021
New 2021 Ferrari 296 GTB launched with 819bhp V6 hybrid powertrain
Ferrari 296 GTB - front
Ferrari

New 2021 Ferrari 296 GTB launched with 819bhp V6 hybrid powertrain

The 205mph Ferrari 296 GTB supercar is powered by an all-new 2.9-litre plug-in hybrid engine
24 Jun 2021
New 2022 Honda Civic hatchback revealed with hybrid power
Honda Civic - front
Honda Civic

New 2022 Honda Civic hatchback revealed with hybrid power

New Honda Civic hatchback builds on almost 50 years of the nameplate with e:HEV electrified drivetrain
24 Jun 2021
New Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback 2021 review
Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback -
Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback

New Audi Q4 e-tron Sportback 2021 review

Audi has expanded its electric car portfolio with the Q4 e-tron Sportback - is it one of its best EVs?
23 Jun 2021
New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech
Dacia Duster facelift - front
Dacia Duster

New Dacia Duster facelift launched with fresh styling and more tech

The budget-conscious Dacia Duster has been updated for 2021 with some subtle design tweaks and a new eight-inch infotainment screen
22 Jun 2021
New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review
Mercedes C-Class - front
Mercedes C-Class

New Mercedes C-Class 2021 review

The new Mercedes C-Class compact exec gets S-Class-inspired tech and new suspension to challenge the BMW 3 Series
24 Jun 2021
Audi will launch final petrol and diesel cars in 2026
Audi petrol diesel
Audi

Audi will launch final petrol and diesel cars in 2026

Audi will phase out petrol power in Europe in 12 years’ time, with a new line-up of “more than 20 e-tron models” scheduled for launch by 2025
23 Jun 2021
New Toyota Yaris Cross prototype review
Toyota Yaris Cross prototype - front
Toyota Yaris Cross

New Toyota Yaris Cross prototype review

We drive a late prototype version of the new Toyota Yaris Cross to see if it has potential
24 Jun 2021
New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space
Peugeot 308 SW - front
News

New 2021 Peugeot 308 SW estate arrives with more space

The Peugeot 308 SW joins the hatchback in the range and arrives with two plug-in hybrid options
22 Jun 2021
'Bolloré's strategy is already having a good impact on Jaguar Land Rover'
Opinion JLR Thierry Bollore
Opinion

'Bolloré's strategy is already having a good impact on Jaguar Land Rover'

Steve Fowler says JLR CEO Thierry Bolloré's new approach is working wonders
24 Jun 2021
New Ferrari Portofino M 2021 review
Ferrari Portofino M - front tracking
Ferrari Portofino

New Ferrari Portofino M 2021 review

Have updates have made the drop-top Ferrari Portofino M better than ever? We find out...
22 Jun 2021