Canada’s 10 best-selling luxury vehicles so far this year

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In the heart of Canada’s auto-buying season, Canada’s trio of leading premium auto brands all reported record sales. For Mercedes-Benz, Canada’s top-selling premium auto brand, May 2018 marked the first occasion in history in which the Stuttgart-based automaker sold more than 5,000 vehicles here. Surging Audi, which has expanded its Canadian volume in 12 consecutive years, topped its all-time sales record set in April with an uptick to 4,207 total sales in May. BMW, now Canada’s third-ranked premium auto brand, reported a 10-per cent year-over-year jump to a best-ever 3,886 total sales.

Massive gains at the top of the luxury leaderboard powered the premium category to 11.3 per cent of the Canadian market through the first five months of 2018. That’s up from 6.3 a decade ago, before luxury SUVs had taken hold as the premium vehicles of choice in Canada.

The strength of the luxury brand network has also been fueled by the rise of entry-level models. Mercedes-Benz, for example, currently generates one-fifth of its Canadian volume (excluding commercial vans) with the B-Class/ CLA-Class/GLA-Class trio of front-wheel-drive-based models. At BMW, where the X5 initiated the brand’s SUV push in 1999, there are now four sub-X5 utility vehicles.

Further credit for the luxury surge belongs to affordable leases, low interest rates, and longer-term loans. Premium automakers have also moved to cater to the more specific desires of demanding consumers with offshoots such as the Audi A5 Sportback and Land Rover Range Rover Velar, vehicles that squeeze into the lineup between more mainstream existing models but manage to carve out a larger-than-expected niche.

At the top of the premium heap, a quick scan of the 10 best-selling premium brand automobiles in Canada in 2018 reveals an overwhelming emphasis on utility vehicles: seven of the top eight are SUVs/crossovers.

The list of top sellers is also predictably heavy on leading brands: Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and BMW claim the five top positions and seven of the top ten. Although there are clearly luxurious vehicles on sale at other brands, and certainly high-priced vehicles at other brands, we’ve reserved this list for vehicles built by Acura, Alfa Romeo, Audi, BMW, Cadillac, Genesis, Infiniti, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Lincoln, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, and Volvo. (Other premium marques do not report monthly Canadian auto sales figures. Data is provided by the Global Automakers of Canada.)

10. BMW 3 Series: 2,528, down 13 per cent

All-new BMW X1 and 340i.

Once a perennial leader in the Canadian luxury auto sales race, the BMW 3 Series now trails two direct rivals plus another seven premium utility vehicles. In part, the 3 Series’ decline relates to former 3 Series bodystyles that now operate under the 4 Series banner. Combined, the two vehicles have earned 4,294 sales so far this year, enough to rank second on this list. That annualized 3 Series/4 Series pace of around 11,500 sales is still a far cry from 14,000 3’s sold in 2010.

9. Audi A4: 2,534, down 18 per cent

09 audi a4 Canada’s 10 best selling luxury vehicles so far this year

2018 Audi A4

Audi’s most popular car proved in 2017 that Canadian consumers remain very interested in actual passenger cars. Or at least, some cars, such as the Audi A4. After averaging 5,300 annual A4 sales over the course of a decade, Audi sold more than 7,000 A4s in 2017. That pace now appears unsustainable, however, as the A4’s 18-per cent year-over-year drop through the first five months of 2018 is the sharpest decline of any top-selling luxury automobile.

8. Lexus NX: 2,998, up 8 per cent

08 lexus nx Canada’s 10 best selling luxury vehicles so far this year

Lexus NX

If at first the Lexus NX’s design appeared too divisive, the NX’s current popularity put appearances to bed. In fact, the NX has steadily grown more popular in Canada, and the long-time best-selling Lexus, the RX, is now in danger of losing its crown to the NX. The NX now outsells the entire Lexus car range by 180 units per month.

7. Acura RDX: 3,275, up 8 per cent

07 acura rdx Canada’s 10 best selling luxury vehicles so far this year

Acura RDX

As Acura prepares to launch an all-new third-generation RDX, the outgoing RDX is experiencing unparalleled popularity. 2017 was the RDX’s best year ever – over 8,100 were sold – and 2018 is ahead of last year’s pace by 8 per cent. And that’s before the 2019 RDX, which no longer shares any Honda CR-V underpinnings, hits Acura’s Canadian showrooms.

6. Lexus RX: 3,369, down 8 per cent

06 lexus rx Canada’s 10 best selling luxury vehicles so far this year

Lexus RX

South of the border, there’s no premium brand vehicle more popular than the all-conquering Lexus RX. In Canada and in the United States, the sixth-ranked RX is destined to grow more popular as the upmarket Toyota marque begins delivering an elongated three-row RX. Even without the long-delayed seven-seater, the Lexus RX has been a hit since Day One. Over 77,000 RXs have been sold in Canada in just the last decade alone.

5. Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class: 3,586, up 19 per cent

05 mercedes benz glc Canada’s 10 best selling luxury vehicles so far this year

Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class

The GLK was a small luxury SUV hit for Mercedes-Benz in Canada. The GLK was then replaced by the GLC and “hit” took on all-new meaning. After routinely topping the 5,000-unit mark with the GLK, the more spacious, more refined, more opulent, more conventionally attractive GLC produced over 8,000 sales in 2017. Moreover, the GLC’s growth in early 2018 suggests Mercedes-Benz will sell 9,600 GLCs this year.

4. Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class: 3,620, up 41 per cent

04 mercedes benz gle Canada’s 10 best selling luxury vehicles so far this year

2017 Mercedes-AMG GLE43 SUV

Prior to a name change from ML to GLE in 2015, the third-generation of Mercedes-Benz’s midsize SUV arrived way back in 2011. Too long-lived? According to Canadian consumers who are on track to turn 2018 into the ML/GLE’s best year ever, not at all. The GLE is available in a pair of bodystyles, and the broad appeal suggests Mercedes-Benz is likely to sell in excess of 9,000 copies in 2018.

3. BMW X3: 3,679, up 40 per cent

03 bmw x3 Canada’s 10 best selling luxury vehicles so far this year

BMW X3

BMW has high global expectations for the new X3, the successor to the small luxury SUV that birthed a segment 15 years ago. Can the X3 reclaim the crown of the world’s top-selling luxury SUV? Scanning the Canadian market alone makes clear how difficult the X3’s task is. Although currently more popular than ever, the X3 trails its top competitor by a margin of nearly 1.5-to-1.

2. Mercedes-Benz C-Class: 4,261, down 15 per cent

02 mercedes benz c class Canada’s 10 best selling luxury vehicles so far this year

Mercedes-AMG C43 4MATIC

Sales are falling. Marketplace trends aren’t working in its favour. SUVs in its own showroom are selling like proverbial hot cakes. And yet, after reporting record sales of nearly 11,000 units in 2017 and failing to come close to matching that pace in early 2018, Mercedes-Benz’s C-Class is still Canada’s most popular luxury car. Indeed, the C-Class is Canada’s best-selling luxury car by a wide margin. Its nearest rival is 1,727 sales behind through the first five months of the year.

1. Audi Q5: 5,315, up 38 per cent

01 audi q5 Canada’s 10 best selling luxury vehicles so far this year

Audi Q5

Year after year after year, Audi sells more and more and more vehicles in Canada. That includes more and more sales of its top seller, its Q5 middle-rung crossover. Audi Canada nearly doubled Q5 volume between 2011 and 2016. A year later, the Q5 topped the 10K mark, as Audi relied on the Q5 for roughly 3 in 10 sales. That ratio has increased in early 2018 to 1 in 3 Audis as Q5 sales grew by 1,451 units in the first five months of 2018. Not since BMW sold more than 14,000 copies of the 3 Series in 2010 has a premium brand vehicle topped the 14K marker, but Audi is on track to do so this year.

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