How exactly do you define luxury and what exactly makes a luxury car? These are some of the hardest questions in the automotive world to answer. Is it all about the brand? The technology? Features? Price? Heritage? It’s nearly impossible to define where a mainstream car becomes a luxury or vice versa.
Luxury is about pleasing the senses. From cars to homes, quality construction, soft leather, thick carpet, open space and lots of light are just a few of the things that communicate luxury. People can’t be fooled into believing something is truly luxurious just because of a marketing campaign or clever branding.
When it comes to cars, it’s easy to identify luxury brands. Jaguar, BMW, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz are known as luxury brands not because everything they make is luxurious, but because most of what they produce is high-quality and pleasing to the senses. The cars look and feel good. However, the same company that builds Mercedes-Benz branded vehicles also builds the micro-sized Smart car. It’s clearly not designed to be a luxury car, but that doesn’t change the fact that Mercedes-Benz is a luxury brand. The company has earned that reputation by consistently producing high-quality, good-looking cars that have compelling features. The same is true of Audi, Lexus and others. Remove the Audi rings from an A6 or the three-pointed star from an E-Class and you still have a luxury car.
What about the opposite side of the same coin? Can a company like Kia, known primarily for economy cars, build a luxury car? You’d say no if your definition of luxury is primarily based on branding. But, if you define luxury as attractive, high-quality and pleasing to the senses, then yes, Kia can build a luxury car. In fact, it already has. Recently, Kia Motors introduced the all-new Cadenza sedan. It accelerates with authority, combines tight handling with a silky-smooth highway ride, the cabin remains quiet no matter what kind of road you’re on and is visually appealing both inside and out. It also comes standard with many luxury features like heated leather seats and navigation.
There are other examples of luxury cars from what are considered to be non-luxury brands. The idea that you can only get a luxury car from a luxury brand may now be outdated, because if you can accept that one brand can sell everything from a budget friendly fuel sipper all the way up to a high-performance coupe or luxury sedan (like Chevrolet), it might change the way you shop for a new car.
Today, luxury cars are changing. In spite of the global recession and only a tentative recovery, sales of premium vehicles are soaring. No surprise, then, that even mass-market manufacturers are hoping to grab a slice of the premium pie – putting pressure on the more established prestige manufacturer to offer customers something over and above the traditional mainstays of automotive luxury.
For example, a manufacturer like Ford to cover the entire dashboard in soft, high-quality leather is a very unusual step, but it’s one that’s expected to be competitive in the luxury market. Ford hopes that its high-end approach will steal some sales away from the established middle ground of prestige manufacturers such as Jaguar, BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz, all of which are enjoying great success at present. But other car makers are coming up with their own interpretations of luxury, with the same end goal in mind.
If you’re still thinking luxury means making a big impression by showing up to your business event in a borrowed Jag, think again. Today, to define luxury, it’s about quality, comfort, good looks and visually pleasing design. Modern luxury pays attention to the details but ultimately doesn’t care what logo is on the trunk.
If you want a bit of “luxury” in your life, take a look at our luxury car hire range,