Big car from mainstream brand or small car from luxury brand

The lure of the 3-pointed star or the white + blue Bavarian emblem is undeniable. However, there is no doubt that the non-luxury marques give you lots more car for the same / lesser money.

Bigger car from a mainstream brand vs smaller luxury car

If you've had 30 - 50 lakhs in your pocket, you have perhaps already faced this dilemma. Should you buy "more car" from a relatively everyday brand, or a smaller car from a luxury brand? While BHPians discuss the pros & cons, the market appears to have already spoken. Sales of the big 3 German luxury marques have largely been stagnant for ~5 years.

The lure of the 3-pointed star or the white + blue Bavarian emblem is undeniable. However, there is no doubt that the non-luxury marques give you lots more car for the same / lesser money.

Here are some examples:

Ford Endeavour (Rs. 30 - 35 lakh) vs BMW X1 (Rs. 37 - 43 lakh)

Toyota Camry (Rs. 39 lakh) vs Audi A4 (Rs. 42 - 47 lakh)

Skoda Superb (Rs. 32 - 35 lakh) vs Mercedes-Benz C-Class (Rs. 49 - 54 lakh)

Kia Carnival (Rs. 25 - 29 lakh) vs Mercedes-Benz GLC-Class (Rs. 57 - 68 lakh)

Pros of larger cars from the mainstream brands

L-O-T-S more car for the money - Not only are same price mainstream cars larger than the entry level models from luxury brands, but they also give you a LOT more space & kit. They are loaded with equipment and technology that is generally not available on the lower-end luxury cars. You'll also get a 3rd-row of seats and AWD / 4x4 <50 lakhs (try that with a Benz).

Cheaper maintenance - Luxury cars, as we know, are expensive to buy. What is expensive to buy, will be expensive to maintain as well. GTO sarcastically calls luxury car owners as being part of the great rip-off club due to their obscene service, maintenance & repair costs.

Won't grab attention - Those who don't like unwanted attention, should stay away from the luxury marques. We know one such person who happily bought a Ford Endeavour (he had the money for an X3). No one will notice you arriving in a VW Tiguan.

Comfort - Almost all the entry level luxury cars are cramped. There is way more space inside a Skoda Superb or Toyota Fortuner than say, the Jaguar XE or Audi Q3. Chauffeur-driven owners, in particular, would be much happier on the back seat of a Camry than a C-Class. Added bonus = the Camry offers more supple ride quality! The majority of luxury cars have a firm edge to their low speed ride, making bad roads uncomfortable.

Easier to live with - Cars from the mainstream brands are far easier to live with and drive on a daily basis. You won't worry too much about driving your Alturas G4 in traffic or parking it on the streets as you would in the case of a 3-Series. You wouldn't mind offroading in a Ford Endeavour, but you would probably refrain from taking a Range Rover off the beaten path (thanks to 3-lakh rupee headlight costs & 1-lakh rupee dent repairs). We will also state that a mainstream brand's car handles Indian roads far better than the delicate darlings from luxo-brands. God help you if you miss a big pothole at speed in an Audi A6.

Sheer value for money - If you are a value-driven personality, there is a case to be made for cars from the mainstream brands. We call cars like the Camry & Kodiaq to be "value luxury" products. Additionally, the fact is that all the luxury marques overprice their cars (exhibit A = Audi Q2).

Wider service network - In a Tier-2 city like Nashik, you'll easily be able to service your Toyota Fortuner, MG Gloster, Mahindra Alturas G4 or VW Tiguan. But there is no BMW dealer in Nashik. Ask for Volvo and they'll guide you to the bus stand!

Reliability - It's easy to find reliable cars from the mainstream brands. But in the luxury sphere, the lack of reliability is more or less an accepted truth.

Pros of smaller cars from luxury brands

Aspirational value & the badge - Whether you admit it or not, all of us are suckers for the badge. If we weren't, no one would need anything more than a 500-rupee watch that tells the same time as a Rolex. People buy luxury cars because they aspire to own them. Isn't there a sexiness to driving a "Jaguar"? Come on, we've had Mercedes wallpapers when growing up. No kid ever put up a Kia Carnival on his / her wall.

Generally better to drive - Dynamically, RWD cars from the luxury brands feel superior to the FWD ones from mainstream brands. Body control, handling, steering feel, braking and performance of cars from the luxury marques is a level above the mainstream cars. The 330i was built for the autobahn, but not the Fortuner or Camry.

Beautiful styling - We will argue that the luxury labels get their designs absolutely spot on. In particular, Mercedes, Volvo & Jaguar-Land Rover are at the top of their styling game.

Luxurious interiors with top quality materials - The high-end cars use more expensive materials and create a luxurious ambience. Their construction is also premium, as are the cabin refinement levels.

5-star safety & solid build quality -  Almost 100% of the luxury cars offer 5-star safety ratings & equipment. That's not the case with all of the premium cars from the mainstream brands. Many of them haven't even been crash-tested.

 They age better - Because luxury cars are built to very high standards, they do age very well. Some BHPians own 8 - 10 year old premium cars which look & feel like 2-year old cars! Luxury cars generally use the best part, paint & construction quality available. Another reason they age better is that owners pamper them more. If you had a Gloster and an S60, which car would you take care of more?

Special treatment - Not just 5-star hotels & restaurant valets, you'll see even your professional contacts treating you a bit more special if you arrive in a beautiful luxury car.

Redlining the Indian Automotive Scene