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ONLY two mass luxury car brands came closest to keeping pace with the general car market in 2016, with the rest of the higher-end segment lagging due to the economic slowdown.
Infiniti and Jaguar were the two best luxury performers as total car registrations in 2016 rose 52 per cent to 87,504. Both brands are represented by Wearnes Automotive.
Infiniti, the luxury division of Nissan, posted a 47.7 per cent surge to 328 units, according to data by the Land Transport Authority (see table).
The growth came from continuing steady demand for two core models - the Q50 mid-sized sedan, and the Q30 compact hatchback which arrived in late Q3.
Gina Tan, Wearnes Automotive's general manager for Infiniti said: "The launch of the all-new Q30 also saw an expansion of our model line-up and range offerings. We were finally able to fulfil the premium active compact gap which we lacked before.''
Since Wearnes re-introduced the brand in Singapore five years ago, Infiniti has grown more than four-fold from 72 units in 2012.
Ms Tan expects its market share to "increase consistently year on year''.
As for Jaguar, it had a record year in 2016, achieving a total of 555 units on a 44.2 per cent jump in sales.
Victor Kwan, Wearnes Automotive's managing director for Jaguar Land Rover, attributes the strong growth to "new, attractively positioned models'' such as the XE mid-size sedan and F-Pace crossover.
"Both are in segments we have never competed before,'' he said.
Looking to 2017, Mr Kwan expects the market to be as competitive as in 2016.
The rest of the luxury car market did enjoy growth, though not as much as Infiniti and Jaguar
BMW for example, posted a 27.3 per cent climb to 4,582 units, while Lexus, the luxury division of Toyota, enjoyed a 31 per cent rise to 1,593 units.
But in terms of numbers Mercedes-Benz continued to be Singapore's most popular luxury brand - its 6,444 units registered in 2016 represented a 19.2 per cent rise.
Two other luxury brands notched up four-figure sales - Audi with 12.8 per cent more cars to 2,360, and Volvo with 16.6 per cent more at 1,485.
On the downside, only Porsche and Maserati suffered negative growth - however, this is because LTA data includes both official and parallel imports; authorised Porsche distributor Stuttgart Auto in the meantime said its 2016 numbers actually rose 4.5 per cent to 556 units.
"We increased our sales and effectively controlled the population of parallel imports because of our attractive prices and aftersales,'' said Jason Lim, general manager for sales at Stuttgart Auto, which is part of the Eurokars Group.
Porsche, along with Mercedes-Benz and BMW, is usually a favourite target of parallel importers.
Stuttgart Auto's aftersales programme includes a five-year warranty and full maintenance for Porsche cars sold by the company.
"Based on the current market situation, we are quite happy with the results,'' said Mr Lim, who added that the Macan compact SUV accounted for about 60 per cent of sales.
"The slowdown did not affect us as badly as other luxury sports car competitors.''