Swedish Brands: Volvo and Saab are leaders in occupant safety and are of sound quality. Both brands have a unique style too. Volvo is doing well enough but Saab is off the pace after years of neglect from recent owner GM. Both have just been sold to new owners but as of now, Saab needs a lot of work before I would recommend buying one. As for Volvos, style is still disappointing and they are too staid in image. Score 4/10.
Japanese Premium Brands: Lexus, Acura and Infiniti mirror Japanese cars generally. Well made, but fairly uninspiring. For regular makes, this is not too much of an issue but against other premium marques, these three look quite ordinary. That is not really good enough for potential buyers, who in this segment expect more. Quite a bit more. Score 5/10
German Premium: Whether BMW, Mercedes, Audi or Porsche, all these marques are respected and popular worldwide. I realise they are well engineered and well made, yet they do not inspire me. Why? They are overpriced, unattractively styled and lack character. Surely value and tasteful design are so important. The engineers obviously dominate the designers in Germany, and without a better balance between the two, they lack charisma. Score 6/10
Italian Premium Brands: Both Maserati and Ferrari make beautiful cars which are also well made these days, despite some prancing horses catching fire recently. Of course the cost of ownership is outrageous and are strictly for the rich. Practical no, desirable yes. Score 7/10
UK Brands: Only premium and sports brands are left now, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mini, Aston Martin, Bentley, Rolls Royce, Lotus and Morgan (with a few other small makers). They were always interesting but were let down by unreliability. Today they are much more dependable (due to foreign ownership), yet they have kept their style and class. Numerically small in production, but they are high in dollar value. I rate them highly but their premium nature puts them beyond what I could afford. Score 7/10
The bottom line: Italian and British design are the best.