Mercedes-Benz and BMW have both released their sales figures for 2018, so it’s time to take a look at which of the two German giants claimed the title of the world’s best-selling luxury automotive brand last year.

Well, the BMW brand registered 2 125 026 units over the course of the year, representing an increase of 1,8 percent, year on year. The Mercedes-Benz brand, meanwhile, reached 2 310 185 units over the same period, growing by 0,9 percent. By our maths, that sees the Stuttgart-based automaker win by 185 159 units (for the record, Audi delivered 1 812 500 units in 2018, some 3,5 percent down).

And what about when it comes to the performance arms of the two brands? Well, BMW M sold 102 780 units (up 27,2 percent), while Mercedes-AMG managed 118 204 units. Whipping out the calculator reveals Affalterbach took the title here by 15 424 units.

BMW's X-badged family of SUVs, meanwhile, totalled 792 590 units over the year, while Mercedes-Benz sold 28 131 more SUVs at 820 721.

The BMW Group (as opposed to brand), meanwhile, points out that it remained the world’s “leading premium automotive company” in 2018. And the stats bear that out: as a group (thus including the BMW brand, Mini, Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad), the Munich-based firm hit 2 490 664 units (up 1,1 percent), some 51 677 units ahead of Mercedes-Benz Cars (which includes the Mercedes brand as well as Smart), which ended on 2 438 987 units.

And in South Africa? Well, bear in mind the two automakers report only aggregate figures locally, so the passenger vehicle sales statistics we’re about to share are for the respective groups (not brands, although in SA, it's worth noting Rolls-Royce and BMW Motorrad are excluded).

We trawled through Naamsa’s monthly sales reports and came up with the following: BMW Group SA registered 18 261 passenger vehicle units in South Africa in 2018, while Mercedes-Benz SA managed 16 164 – some 2 097 units behind its Bavarian foe.

Still, we can’t help but wonder what the picture would look like were Mini and Smart to be removed from these figures. Indeed, we suspect it would have been mighty, mighty close…