The team have also looked at the prices of the world’s most popular luxury vehicles compared to the average UK salary to figure out how long it would take the average person to afford the highest level of luxury.
The Most Popular Luxury Car Models of 2023
1. BMW M3 Score: 9.73/10
Taking the top spot as the world’s most popular luxury car model is the BMW M3. With 473 horsepower under the bonnet delivering 406 pound-feet of torque, it’s not hard to see why it's so popular. The model ranks first for its 4.4 million Instagram posts and 2.8 billion TikTok views. The M3 also ranks highly for its Google search volume, taking fifth place for this factor with 12.8 million searches over the last 12 months. The M3, with its perfect blend of luxury and sport, has been a symbol of prestige since its debut in 1986.
2. Audi R8 Score: 9.66/10
Two models share second place, with the Audi R8 and BMW M4 scoring 9.66 out of 10.
The Audi R8, built on the same platform as the Lamborghini Gallardo, has garnered many famous fans, including actor Tom Hardy, since its launch. So it’s no surprise it’s the most Googled car model in our index, thanks to its 20.6 million searches over the past year. However, it lags behind the BMW M4 regarding social media popularity, ranking third and fourth for its TikTok views (2.6 billion) and Instagram posts (three million).
The R8 is known for its unmistakable silhouette and roaring engine and has been turning heads since 2007. It has also appeared in movies such as Iron Man and has been driven by celebrities such as Lady Gaga.
2. BMW M4 Score: 9.66/10
With over three million Instagram posts and 2.6 billion TikTok views, the BMW M4 owes its position in the index to its popularity on social media, taking second place for both factors. Unfortunately, the Audi R8 outranks it when it comes to searches, as the M4 only has just over 13 million, cementing its position as second overall. Since its debut in 2014, the BMW M4 has been recognised as a vehicle of choice for those seeking thrilling performance without sacrificing luxury.
The Most Searched-for Luxury Car Models
1. Audi R8 20,640,000 searches
By far the most Googled car model is the Audi R8, racking up more than 20 million searches over the last 12 months. First launched in 2006, the two-seater mid-engine sports car currently in its second generation is Audi’s flagship model, so it is no surprise it’s the most popular luxury car on the list.
2. Lamborghini Urus 18,990,000 searches
Coming in second is Lamborghini’s first SUV model since its buyout by Volkswagen in 1998. The Lamborghini Urus doesn’t sacrifice speed for practicality, as it’s one of the fastest commercially available SUVs in the world. So it’s no wonder the Urus is one of the most searched-for luxury cars, with just under 19 million searches over the last 12 months.
3. BMW i8 14,760,000 searches
Despite going out of production in 2020, the BMW i8 remains one of the best-selling plug-in hybrid sports cars, selling more than 20,000 over its run and out-competing all other competitors combined. So it’s only to be expected that it takes third place for Google searches with 14.7 million over the last 12 months.
The Most Instagrammable Luxury Car Models
1. BMW M3 4,478,246 Instagram posts
The high-performance version of BMW’s 3 Series, the M3, is the most photographed luxury car on Instagram, racking up more than 4.4 million posts. The newest models of the M3 are equipped with the BMW S58 turbocharged straight-six engine and all-wheel drive, so it’s not hard to see why it's so popular with petrolheads on the platform.
2. BMW M4 3,027,401 Instagram posts
Taking second place is the BMW M4, with more than three million posts on Instagram dedicated to the luxury vehicle. The sportier two-door version of the 4 Series was first launched in 2014 and boasts a 473 horsepower twin-turbocharged three-litre engine on newer models. Although the second generation’s revamped design caused a stir amongst dedicated BMW fans.
3. BMW M5 2,607,593 Instagram posts
Completing the top three as the third BMW model on the list is the M5. Considered by many luxury car enthusiasts to be one of the most iconic sports sedans, the BMW M5 is now in its sixth generation, with newer models fitted with all-wheel drive as standard, a departure from the M5’s usual rear-wheel drive setup.
The Most Viewed Luxury Car Models on TikTok
1. BMW M3 2.8 billion TikTok views
The BMW M3 is the most viewed luxury car model on TikTok, racking up 2.8 billion views on the platform. Now in its sixth generation since its launch in 1986, the sports saloon was initially limited to 5,000 units to qualify for touring races. It has since become a flagship model for the German manufacturer.
2. BMW M4 2.6 billion TikTok views
Taking second place, with 2.6 billion views, is BMW’s replacement for the M3 coupe, the M4. Popular with petrol heads, thanks to its versatility, the M4 can get up to 26 miles per gallon in economy mode, which isn’t bad for a luxury saloon. Opening up the throttle can also reach a top speed of 174 miles per hour.
3. Audi R8 2.2 billion TikTok views
In third place is the Audi R8, clocking up more than two billion views on the social media platform. Audi is recognised worldwide for its technical innovation, and the R8 is no exception. As a version of the vehicle, the TDI LeMans was the world’s first diesel-powered supercar.
The Most Popular Luxury Car Brands of 2023
1. BMW Score: 9.86/10
BMW is crowned the world’s most famous luxury car brand in our index, scoring 9.86 out of 10. The German manufacturer, known for its long history of engineering luxury vehicles, takes the top spot on both Instagram posts, racking up more than 72 million on the platform and TikTok views at over 113 billion. It ranks second for Google searches too.
2. Audi Score: 9.13/10
Of the 24 manufacturers in the index, Audi ranks as the second most popular luxury car brand in 2023. Audi scores well for Instagram posts, with over 33 million posts hashtagged with the brand name. It fares well on TikTok too, with just under 45 billion views. However, it ranks fifth overall for Google searches with 103.6 million, the lowest of the top three in the index, giving it an overall score of 9.13 out of 10.
3. Porsche and Lamborghini Score: 8.70/10
Yet another German manufacturer takes its place near the top of the index, with Porsche sharing third place. This is unsurprising as the brand is known for creating some of the world’s most iconic high-performance luxury cars. Porsche ranks third for both Google searches and Instagram posts, clocking up 62,240,000 searches and 28,165,138 posts, respectively.
Lamborghini also ranks third, with the luxury car brand that started making tractors ranking highly for its TikTok views at 38.7 billion. It also scores highly for Google searches, with more than 60 million over the last 12 months and ranks fifth overall for Instagram posts, with just over 21 million on the platform.
The Most Searched-for Luxury Car Brands
1. Tesla 103,640,000 searches
The electric car manufacturer Tesla is the most searched-for brand in the index, which is no surprise as the Model 3 is the world’s all-time best-selling electric vehicle. Founded in 2003, it’s one of the newest car brands in the index and has clocked up more than 103 million searches over the last 12 months. In March 2023, Tesla announced plans to open its latest Gigafactory in Monterrey, Mexico, set to open in 2025.
2. BMW 96,400,000 searches
Up next is BMW, with more than 96 billion searches over the last 12 months. The company originally manufactured aircraft engines before pivoting to cars in 1928, and now produces some of the most reliable, stylish and comfortable luxury cars on the market. This year, BMW finally pledged to start producing hydrogen fuel cell vehicles by 2025, making them one of the last major manufacturers to do so.
3. Porsche 62,240,000 searches
Founded by the man who created the iconic Volkswagen Beetle, Porsche is the third most searched-for car brand. Renowned worldwide for its precise handling and powerful engines, the company had 62,240,000 searches over the last 12 months, taking Porsche to third place. Porsche is expected to be listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange as a public company this year, with an estimated $60-85 billion value.
The Most Instagrammable Luxury Car Brands
1. BMW 72,448,635 Instagram posts
Taking the top spot for Instagram posts with more than 72 million is BMW, one of the largest and most recognisable luxury car manufacturers on the market. Renowned for its innovation, the company produced their first electric car way back in 1972, although it never made it to market.
2. Audi 33,962,299 Instagram posts
Coming behind BMW is the Bavarian automotive giant Audi. With current flagship models like the R8, it's not hard to see why they’ve racked up more than 33 million posts on Instagram. The Manufacturer is also committed to safety and luxury, being the first company to crash test their vehicles in 1938.
3. Porsche 28,165,138 Instagram posts
Completing the top three is another German manufacturer, as Porsche has more than 28 million Instagram posts tagging the brand. Famous for the Porsche 911, a model that hasn’t been out of production since its launch in 1963, Porsche continues to be an innovative force in the luxury car market.
The Most Viewed Luxury Car Models on TikTok
1. BMW 113.1 billion TikTok views
Unlike many other luxury car brands, BMW pays homage to its heritage by continuing to produce replacement parts for models dating back to the 1940s. This attention to detail and ability to look after its customers could be why TikTok fans adore the brand, as it takes the top spot for views totalling over 11 billion.
2. Audi 44.9 billion TikTok views
Following behind BMW, albeit at a distance of more than 68 billion views, is Audi in second place, with just short of 45 billion TikTok views. The brand stays true to its slogan Vorsprung durch Technik (progress through technology), by being one of the most innovative luxury car manufacturers, creating the world’s first five-cylinder petrol engine used in production models.
3. Lamborghini 38.7 billion TikTok views
Taking third place with 38.7 billion views is the Italian luxury sports car manufacturer Lamborghini. Founded as a competitor to Ferrari in the Italian sports car market, Lamborghini currently only produces three models, the Urus, Huracan, and Revuelto, the first plug-in hybrid made by the brand.
The Most Expensive Luxury Cars
We’ve all spent time daydreaming about getting behind the wheel of our dream car, but how many years would it take someone on the average wage in the UK (£27,756) to earn enough money to afford some of the world’s most luxurious vehicles?
1. Bugatti Chiron 90 years
The successor to the Veyron, the Bugatti Chiron, takes the top spot. Equipped with a quad-turbocharged eight-litre W16 engine capable of 0-60 mph in 2.5 seconds and a top speed of 300 mph, this luxury vehicle’s production run is limited to only 20 a year. This gives it a whopping price tag of £2.5 million, which would take the average worker in the UK 90 years to afford!
2. Lamborghini Urus 7 years
Up next is the Lamborghini Urus, which costs an average of £191,564, the equivalent of 7 years' wages. The super SUV combines the power of a supercar with the versatility of an SUV, letting it climb to 0-60mph in 3.6 seconds and having the biggest ceramic brakes ever fitted to a commercially available vehicle at the time. With so many high-performance features, it's no surprise it takes second place.
3. Audi R8 5 years
The most affordable luxury car in the top three, costing £144,427, or five times the average annual salary, is the Audi R8. Despite being a staple of the luxury car market for 17 years, 2023 is the last year of production for the R8 as the automotive giant concentrates on electrifying its new offerings.
Beginning with a list of luxury car brands and models taken from articles and manufacturer’s websites, we analysed each on the following factors. We then gave each car brand and model a normalised score out of ten for each factor before taking an average across each score to reach our final overall score out of ten.
The total number of Google searches for each car brand and model from July 2022 to June 2023, according to Google Ads.
The total number of Instagram posts using the hashtags #[car brand] and #[car model].
The total number of views for TikTok posts using the hashtags #[car brand] and #[car model].
To find out how long the average Brit would take to afford a luxury car, we took the prices of the top 10 most popular models from the index. We divided them by the UK’s median annual salary in 2022 according to the ONS to reach the total years. For manufacturers offering multiple versions of the model, an average was taken.
Data was collected on 07/08/2023.
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