Luxury car sales in New Zealand are shaping up to be the most competitive in years, with 102 registrations at the end of July separating the
three leading brands, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, and Audi. All three German nameplates will vigorously chase registrations over the remaining four-and-a-half months of 2015 – BMW and Audi to continue their long-time year-on-year duel for line honours, Benz to rule over them for the first time in almost 30 years. Benz expects its upcoming line-up of new SUVs to help it finish the year as No. 1, leaving BMW and Audi to battle for second place. Benz NZ general manager Ben Giffin said the brand’s sales success verified the direction of its product strategy for New Zealand. “We’re experiencing fantastic growth across our passenger car range, especially with our award-winning C-Class, but we’re particularly excited about the arrival of some significant SUV models in the coming months,” he said.Benz had sold 1203 passenger cars at the end of last month, 61 ahead of BMW’s 1142 and 102 up on Audi’s 1101. If the sale momentum continues, Benz can expect to break through the 2000 sales barrier. That’s another first. The positions were reversed at the end of July last year. BMW led the high-end passenger car sector with 1270 registrations, 13 ahead of Audi and 174 in front of Benz. At the end of the year BMW signed off with 2126 sales to Audi’s 2025 and Benz’s 1811. The finishing order was the same in 2013: BMW 1907 sales, Audi 1820, Benz 1482. BMW and Audi have been the luxury front-runners for many years, but Benz has hit a bright spot over the past couple with its extended range of passenger cars, like the A-, B-, and C-Class variants. These will soon be joined by all-wheel-drive additions to the strong SUV segment – the GLE, GLE Coupe, and GLC. The GLE replaces the model known since 1998 as the M-Class, and the GLE Coupe is a rival to the BMW X6. The GLC is a mid-range SUV, a vehicle Benz hasn’t had in NZ. It will rival the BMW X3, Audi Q5, and top-end Lexus NX200t. “Our all-new GLC represents one of the most important models for the New Zealand market,” said Giffin. “We anticipate that the addition of this mid-sized SUV to our portfolio will cement our brand’s number one position, in what can only be described as the ‘Year of the SUV’ for Mercedes-Benz. “ Three GLC models will be available, all using a new nine-speed automatic transmission. The entry level is the 2.1-litre four-cylinder GLC 220d turbodiesel model, good for 125kW/400Nm and costing $89,900. At $94,900 is the GLC 250, a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol unit delivering 155kW/350Nm. The range tops out – for the time being, anyway – with the GLC 250d, a variant of the 2.1-litre oil-burner that generates 150kW/500Nm.