Is Volkswagen a Luxury Brand?

Volkswagen is one of the most iconic automakers on the planet. Largely due to flagship models like the VW Bus, the Golf, and the Beetle, nearly anyone you ask will recognize the German-based manufacturer. But is Volkswagen a luxury brand?

A red 2021 Volkswagen GTI four-door hatchback traveling on a two-lane highway through arid mountains on a sunny day
2021 Volkswagen GTI | Volkswagen of America, Inc.

Volkswagen‘s models such as the Passat, Beetle, and Jetta have often been sought after in various ebbs and flows of the U.S. auto market. But if Volkswagen owns brands like Audi, why would it need to stand on its own as a luxury brand as well? In fact, Volkswagen Auto Group owns several luxury brands. So is it a manufacturer of luxury vehicles as well?

Volkswagen in Germany

Despite Nazi roots, Volkswagen is an esteemed auto brand. It rose from the ashes of World War II and earned its space in the automotive industry by producing “the people’s car.” This manufacturer began its journey in Germany. However, it now has a global presence and produces a number of models across several brands.

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With brands that include big names in the luxury market, such as Lamborghini and Bentley, Volkswagen Auto Group certainly has a handle on what it means to be a premium vehicle. With headquarters in Wolfsburg, Germany, Volkswagen AG is a force to be reckoned with in the luxury auto space. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that Volkswagen cars themselves share that space.

What is the most popular Volkswagen model?

In 2017, the Volkswagen Golf was the brand’s best-selling model. However, in 2018 the Polo overcame the Golf––according to Statista. Then, the Volkswagen Tiguan outsold both the Golf and the Polo in 2019.

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In the U.S. alone, the Tiguan sold over 100,000 units in 2019, according to Good Car Bad Car. The Volkswagen Tiguan is a compact SUV with a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine. According to the Volkswagen website, the 2021 Tiguan starts at $25,245. These days, it sells better than other popular models like the Jetta because of its SUV style.

“The Tiguan’s stylish appearance and refined driving experience give it a distinctly European charm.”

Car and Driver

Is Volkswagen a luxury car?

According to Cars.com, Volkswagen Auto Group owns a hefty list of luxury car brands. However, it is not in and of itself considered a luxury brand. But it’s not really considered a budget brand either, and it’s known for offering a desirable level of performance across the models in the VW lineup.

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In fact, in many ways this brand toes the line between luxury and mainstream. It’s like a “semi-premium” brand. Critics tout the upscale quality and fun driving experience of Mazda‘s models. Volkswagen also earns praise from critics, hailed for its ability to bring a lot to the table for a good price.

A Volkswagen Jetta on display at an auto show show show this mainstream brand brings some luxury into the equation
A Volkswagen Jetta on display | Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

It’s not the cheapest car on the road. Volkswagen is not a luxury brand either. While it may be the parent company for several prestigious luxury brand manufacturers, Volkswagen continues selling its “people’s car” to the masses in the mainstream auto segment.