Luxury car sales were one bright spot in a tough year for the new car market in Australia last year, but it wasn’t smooth sailing for the big luxury brands to start 2021.

    Long-time sales leader Mercedes-Benz Car started on the right foot, with 2443 sales representing a 31.5 per cent improvement over the same month in 2020.

    Even with a tougher month for Mercedes-Benz Vans rolled in (232 sales, down 35 per cent) the three-pointed star sold 460 more cars in January this year than it did last year.

    Drivers of the growth include the CLA, which wasn’t on sale this time last year, and the C-Class sedan.

    Not only did it comfortably topple the BMW 3 Series on the sales charts, the C-Class was up 46.9 per cent compared to January 2020.

    The GLB seven-seater also performed strongly, with 276 sales making it the second-best selling Mercedes SUV last month.

    As of January, 45 per cent of Mercedes-Benz sales are based on the A-Class. Of the 2443 cars it shifted last month, 1098 were spun off the brand’s most compact platform.

    BMW finished 2020 nipping at the heels of Mercedes-Benz, but couldn’t match its biggest rival in January.

    With 1701 cars sold, BMW sales dropped 11.9 per cent compared to the same month last year.

    Along with the 3 Series sedan (139 sales, down 52.7 per cent), the brand saw sales decline across the X1 SUV (253, down 23.3 per cent), X2 SUV (34, down 49.3 per cent), and X4 SUV (68, down 52.1 per cent) ranges.

    The large BMW X5 performed strongly (302 sales, up 45.9 per cent), backed by the smaller X3 (358, up 10.2 per cent).

    Hot on the heels of a massive year of new car launches, Audi sales stayed stable to start 2021. With 1455 cars sold, it was up 0.5 per cent – or seven sales – on the same month in 2020.

    Sales of the Q2 and Q3 stayed very similar (identical, in the case of the Q2), but the large Q7 SUV (177 sales, up 82.5 per cent) was a standout performer.

    Expect to see stronger sales from the Q5, which has been treated to a refresh and is starting to roll out to dealers.

    Audi is also expecting the facelifted Q2 in the middle of this year, complete with an SQ2 flagship, while the new A3 has been delayed to the second half of this year as well.

    Lexus started 2021 strongly, with incremental growth (745 sales, up 3.0 per cent) in January.

    Sales of the renewed IS sedan grew by almost three quarters (96, up 74.5 per cent), while both the RX (148, up 13.8 per cent) and UX (133, up 12.7 per cent) had strong months.

    The mid-sized NX dipped (247 sales, down 17.9 per cent) but remained the best-selling Lexus.

    Working through the smaller luxury players, Alfa Romeo went backwards by 41.5 per cent in January.

    The facelifted Giulia’s sales dropped from 22 in January 2020 to just 18 last month, while the Stelvio dropped from 36 last year to just five as Alfa Romeo waits for the facelifted model to touch down.

    Jaguar (down 58.9 per cent) and Land Rover (down 13.4 per cent) sales dropped, as the British brands battle supply struggles.

    Currently it’s expecting 2021 models to arrive in March and April, as COVID-19 wreaks havoc on its British, Slovakian, and Austrian plants. A company spokesperson told CarExpert “order intake is still strong”.

    Volvo had a huge month, with 803 sales representing a 45.2 per cent increase on the same month last year.

    The XC40 was the brand’s best seller, with 367 sales (up 105 per cent) leading growth from all of its SUVs.

    Finally, Genesis sold 15 cars. That’s an improvement of five on the same month last year, with the new GV80 SUV (eight sales) driving the growth.

    Scott Collie

    Scott Collie is an automotive journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Scott studied journalism at RMIT University and, after a lifelong obsession with everything automotive, started covering the car industry shortly afterwards. He has a passion for travel, and is an avid Melbourne Demons supporter.

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