Let's say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?

Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don't garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn't even one that's made anymore, at that.

A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.

It's an odd winner because the C70 isn't even available as a new model anymore, having been discontinued after the 2013 model year. It isn't the only car no longer offered that's on the list, either. The BMW 128i is in seventh place with 53.93 percent of conquest buyers despite leaving us in MY 2014. It seems likely that some of these vehicles are still on dealer lots, and buyers are getting good incentives to pick them up at lower prices.

According to Polk, the 10 models with the highest conquest rates from non-luxury segments are: If you're curious about the other side of the table, the Mercedes S-Class is the least likely vehicle for new luxury buyers to choose at 10.35 percent. Although, that's not exactly a shock – with a starting price of nearly $100,000, it would be quite a leap up from a Camry or Accord.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 42 Comments
      OneMHz
      • 5 Months Ago
      I'm not sure I'm understanding the term "conquest rate" here. Could it also be taken to mean that for the C70, for example, only 31.99% of buyers are coming from a different luxury brand? Or, to put it another way, it gets the least amount of draw away from other luxury models?
        proper car driver
        • 5 Months Ago
        @OneMHz
        im not sure myself wether conquest means vw to bmw or mb to bmw. one way or another c70 seems a bit displaced in this cathegory.
      Jonathan
      • 5 Months Ago
      Not sure if I believe this. I refuse to believe anyone buys the Lexus CT. I think I've seen maybe 3 in person.
        jtav2002
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Jonathan
        I've never seen a midget stripper in person either, but there are plenty of those out there too.
        ilkhan
        • 4 Months Ago
        @Jonathan
        Ironically I saw one today. Looked at it and went "A Lexus wagon? WTF? How stupid."
      knightrider_6
      • 5 Months Ago
      These people must be using the term "luxury car" very loosely if they included CLA and A3 in that list
      Gearhead
      • 5 Months Ago
      What this says to me is the difference between 'luxury' and 'mass market' is breaking down quickly.
      dacelbot
      • 5 Months Ago
      So what exactly is the story behind those 10% of S Class buyers who are new to luxury brands? Seems like the kind of car you buy after other nice cars, one you work up to, and not exactly a young person's car even if that young person is rich
        dacelbot
        • 5 Months Ago
        @dacelbot
        Not that the S class is a bad car in the slightest, it's amazing.
        ferps
        • 5 Months Ago
        @dacelbot
        probably just some sneaky tax schemes used by the rich.
      Indubitably
      • 5 Months Ago
      Whats luxury about the ILX?
      Andrew
      • 5 Months Ago
      Is this based on what was traded in? Interesting, if I'm not reading too much into it. Presumably, first-time luxury buyers are younger than repeat luxury buyers, and don't have strong preconceptions about a brand. They'll simply research online and test drive what looks cool. Choosing the JX over the MDX (I would (and did) just get a Pathfinder for a lot less, but I digress) should say something to Acura about resting on their laurels. ILX, sure, it's relatively cheap and has no real competitors at under $30K. But if your first luxury car is $60K, the established players should be worried if they're not the first choice for newbies.
        normc32
        • 5 Months Ago
        @Andrew
        The ILX doesn't have competition? The Buick Verano doubled ILX sales last year. Plus every comparison gives the win to the Verano even AB pick it.
      normc32
      • 5 Months Ago
      The Buick Verano has sold 3x as many Acura ILX so far this year.
        Indubitably
        • 5 Months Ago
        @normc32
        This is true, but a lot of Veranos are also bought by fleets.
      Trevor
      • 5 Months Ago
      The lexus has no business being called luxury. It has a toyota interior, and is slower than a turtle.
      FuelToTheFire
      • 5 Months Ago
      A Tahoe is much more of a luxury car than those small cramped European cars. It can comfortably seat six, has a soft ride, and is big enough for the passengers to feel comfortable in. It's a great cruiser, too. It's more of a luxury car than those cars ever will be.
        RGT881
        • 5 Months Ago
        @FuelToTheFire
        I dig your posts dude. You know psychology way few people do. I hope you put your talents to efficient, rewarding and beneficial uses.
      Bob
      • 5 Months Ago
      Audi A6 TSFI was my pick. Nothing bester for the price and performance,
      RGT881
      • 5 Months Ago
      These entry level luxury cars are very smartly put together, priced and marketed. Couple that with the fact that young generation with a solid income is extremely savvy with obtaining information and reviews, I'd say that any car company which ends up in top 5 needs to give themselves a solid pat on the back. I'm sure I'm not the only one who reads domestic and then British and German auto publications on reviews and visits global forums to get real world experiences.
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