Seriously, just what is luxury these days? I had a read of an article in The Age’s motoring section Drivel Drive, where the boss of Lexus Australia was commenting on how some of his German rivals have been making smaller and smaller cars which offer less and less features to capture as much of the market as possible. Good luck to them, I say. Ultimately, what is a luxury car? If your prerequisite is leather seats, you can get those in a Mazda 3, or any run of the mill steed. Hell, most of the car manufacturers don’t use real leather anyway, so what’s the deal? What does luxury mean to you?

But for us mere mortals, what is luxury?

Unless you have one million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, and are willing to spend that million on a Rolls Royce, you’d be hard pressed to define just what luxury is. A Rolls Royce shows the ultimate level of overt, over-the-top, luxury that a car could be equipped with. Much like how Emperor Palpatine typifies the ultimate, over-the-top, evil overlord in Star Wars. Actually, I can imagine him and Darth Vader pootling around in a dark grey Roller. With a fluffy Death Star hanging off the rear view mirror.

But for us mere mortals, what is luxury? Is it numerous gadgets as standard features? Is it customization? Or maybe you want gadgets, but you want to pay enormous amounts for them? Is it comfort, ride and handling, or some other attribute? Fit and finish obviously counts as a must, but what about visual design? I ask this because the car market is now so diluted and fragmented that the words “premium” and “luxury” are thrown around in brochures along with the aspirational term “lifestyle”, which, apart from some potentially wild imaginings by some would be purchasers, never eventuate anyway.

The big three German car manufacturers, VAG, BMW and Daimler have an idea that people prefer their cars to be understated and come potentially, if you fork out enormous amounts of money for options, loaded with fancy gadgets and creature comforts. The English have followed suit, Jaguar and Land Rover can pile on the trimmings if you can pile on the dollars. It seems that Lexus have a different take on it. Their philosophy seems to be giving the majority of the kit to everyone and minimizing any complexities when it comes to actually building the car. The added benefit is that to the consumer, it appears to be good value for money.

I don’t really know how any car company can justify the prices on some options for consumers.

I don’t really know how any car company can justify the prices on some options for consumers. Sure, some complex things like drive trains and suspensions you could understand given the amount of money spent on developing and testing things like that. But there are some things I couldn’t fathom paying lots for, like spoilers and rims. Either way, I don’t buy the argument that there’s a definitive definition of luxury yet. Join me in an extended look next time at just what might be considered a truly luxury car.

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