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Luxury Cars

What Makes for a Luxury Car? Not its price tag


As a self-professed lover of luxury cars, I’m often asked what in fact makes a car a “luxury” car. It seems no one in the business has ever truly defined the term and no one is sure just how far luxury needs to go to make a car a luxury one. Is it just the brand, the features, the upholstery, the tech or even the price tag?

I always say it’s everything you think it is, minus the price tag.

Let’s break it down. To put it as simply as possible, luxury means going beyond the necessities. But for most of us, having an apple dock in our car doesn’t exactly equate it to a luxury model, that’s why luxury cars need the best of everything.

That being said, the Australian government disagrees with me.

According to the Australian Government luxury cars are defined by nothing but a hefty price tag. It’s pretty safe to say that anyone in their right mind will agree with my first statement though, that luxury is NOT in fact defined by price when they realise that a Toyota LandCruiser Prado costs more than a Mercedes-Benz C250 and that under Australian Law, that same Mercedes is exempt for the Luxury Car Tax (LCT) while that boring, totally non-luxury LandCruiser is not.

It’s all relative

Therefore one can conclude that what makes a car a luxury car, is definitely not price. It’s also not having the latest technology. Well, not exactly. If you’re after a new luxury car then you will probably want the best tech available, however when buying a used luxury car, you will be hard pressed to find a model with the latest tech gadgets included, instead you should choose your model based on whether it had the latest tech available in the year it was produced. That is a sign of a true luxury car, no matter it’s year. Yes, classic cars are luxury cars, even if they’re not technically as luxurious as new luxury cars, or even basic new cars. Comfort is relative, so is luxury.

Brand defined

A brand CAN define luxury, but not always. A good way to explain this is to take a Lamborghini and a Mercedes. Not every Mercedes is going to be classed as luxury by everyone, however everyone would say that every Lambo is a luxury car, no matter the model. Not every luxury brand is a true luxury brand, even Ferrari’s don’t always make luxury cars, even though that’s what they’re known for. Would anyone call their racing cars a luxury car? Sure they’re luxe for a racing car, but that’s all they are.

In Australia a luxury car is almost always a German model. Think Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Aston Martin’s and Bentley’s aren’t as readily available here and the US makes are often laughed at (hell, even Americans hate American cars) while European cars are recognised as being the height of luxury.