Halo cars allow automakers to stimulate exposure and fanfare about their cars and attract more consumers to the brand. More than increasing sales, these cars are created to improve the brand’s image by featuring the state-of-the-art in terms of technology, design, and performance.

Some of them are one-off models, and some others make part of a dedicated lineup. It is the case of the performance families from Audi (called RS), BMW (M) and Mercedes (AMG), and from other premium brands like Alfa Romeo (Quadrifoglio), Lexus (F) and Jaguar (SVR). Most of them are derived from the regular lineup but incorporate super-powered engines with less weight.

Who sells more?

The data collected by JATO Dynamics for some European markets indicate that the RS lineup from Audi was the most popular in 2021 and during the first quarter of this year. This family, which includes the RS3, RS4, RS5, RS6, RS e-tron GT, RSQ3, RSQ3 Sportback, RSQ8 and TT RS, led this exclusive ranking with around 17,600 units registered in 2021, and almost 7,000 units in Q1 2022. That’s 3.0% and 4.7% of the brand’s total volume respectively.

Audi has correctly positioned this family through a splendid marketing campaign along with a wide range of versions. Nevertheless, there are missing key models like the RSQ5.

AMG, RS or M registrations in Europe

The RS family was followed by the AMG family from Mercedes-Benz. They registered around 6,300 units in Q1 2022, down by 34% vs Q1 2021. The AMG versions of the A, C, E and G classes, and CLA, CLS, GLA, GLB, GLC, GLC Coupe, GLE, GLE Coupe and SL represented 4.1% of the brand’s total volume during the same period (vs 5.4% in Q1 2021).

Finally, there’s the M family from BMW. During the first three months of this year, the brand from Munich registered around 3,600 units of the M3, M4, M5, M8 and the M/M Competition versions of the X3, X4, X5 and X6. The volume was up by 18% mostly driven by the latest generation of the M3 and M4, both of them featuring the controversial big grille. In contrast to Audi and Mercedes, the BMW M lineup made up 2.3% of the total sold by the brand.

AMG, RS or M: How much more for a performance model? - graphic

The Quadrifoglio counts for more of the total sales

It is quite interesting to see the higher importance that the performance lineup represents for Alfa Romeo. Whilst these families counted for 2.3% to 4.7% of the registrations of its German rivals during the first quarter, the Quadrifoglio versions of the Giulia and Stelvio made up 5.8% of Alfa’s total during the same period. That’s even more than Q1 2021, at 5.3%.

How is this possible? Part of the explanation is due to the limited traditional offer. However, it is also clear that the halo cars from Alfa Romeo are quite popular in terms of media visibility and performance results.

AMG, RS or M models percentage of total registrations Q1 2022 - graphic

The author of the article, Felipe Munoz, is an Automotive Industry Specialist at JATO Dynamics.