It’s often said that you can glimpse the future of in-car technology by studying the technologies incorporated into the current-generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class. However, to glimpse the future of motoring safety, turn your gaze northwards from Germany towards Sweden.
For decades, Volvo and Saab introduced world-leading innovations to the automotive industry. Volvo alone has given us rear-facing child seats and booster cushions, side impact protection beams and inflatable curtain airbags.
Don’t assume the best Swedish cars always place safety above driver engagement, though. Upstart brands like Koenigsegg are blazing a trail for hypercars, while industry disruptors including Lynk & Co demonstrate alternative models of personal transportation. It’s just a shame high-tech electric city car manufacturer Uniti didn’t survive long enough to add its own disruption to the mix, after filing for bankruptcy in 2022.
Add Polestar’s all-electric wizardry into the mix, and the best Swedish car brands have far more to offer the world than reassurance and refinement. That’s before we get to Volvo’s incorporation of the best elements of Scandinavian design and minimalism—concepts we love here at Luxe Digital.
Why you can trust Luxe Digital?
At Luxe Digital, we instinctively understand quality. We recognize it in a Ferrari’s flowing lines, a Rolls-Royce’s craftsmanship and a Lexus’s impeccable construction. We’ve profiled every active Swedish car manufacturer, from mainstream market leaders to hypercar innovators.
Despite their models retaining a healthy presence in the classic car market, we’ve excluded Saab from this list after they sadly ceased trading in 2014. We’ve also excluded design house and project car manufacturer Caresto, who are to Sweden what Bertone are to Italy.
If you still associate Volvo with Seventies stalwarts like the boxy 240, today’s range could come as a shock. Svelte design has been a watchword since the gorgeous second-generation C70 emerged in the mid-Noughties, and today’s Volvos are sharp-suited and stunning inside. Few mainstream manufacturers do interiors this well, with tactile portrait touchscreens and exquisite materials throughout.
Don’t assume that Volvo forgot about substance while addressing style. They still make the most comfortable car seats, while the safety credentials of their models are beyond reproach. Today’s eight-model range might be aging, but it’s growing old gracefully.
|Founders:||Assar Gabrielsson and Gunnar Larsson|
|Types of car:||Sedans, SUVs, wagons|
|Best-selling car:||Volvo XC40|
It took a long time for anyone to challenge the holy supercar trinity of Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. Happily, McLaren and Pagani’s double-fisted assault in the Noughties cleared a path for marques like Koenigsegg to unleash their breathtaking designs onto an unsuspecting world.
While other supercar companies buy in engines and gearboxes, Koenigsegg manufactures almost all its own components. In-house innovations have included a camless piston engine, while the 2006 CCX remains one of the best Swedish cars ever made. Subsequent models lacked the CCX’s shock value, though today’s four-seater Gemera is a rare example of a practical hypercar.
|Founders:||Christian von Koenigsegg|
|Types of car:||Hypercars|
|Best-selling car:||Koenigsegg CCX|
Manufacturers increasingly operate premium brands alongside their mainstream offerings – Genesis/Hyundai, Lexus/Toyota, Acura/Honda. Daring to be different, Volvo spun out their Polestar brand as an all-electric counterpart to their ICE-powered sedans and SUVs.
With shared platforms and a similar design ethos, think of Polestars as e-Volvos. The Polestar 2 is based on an XC40 platform, discarding the oily bits in favor of one or two electric motors – the latter setup will hit 60 in just 4.1 seconds. Badges and powertrain aside, you could be sitting in a Volvo, courtesy of super-comfy seats and extensive safety tech.
|Types of car:||Electric SUVs|
|Best-selling car:||Polestar 2|
Lynk & Co
Another Swedish manufacturer giving its models two-digit names is Lynk & Co, whose 01 resembles a Porsche Macan on steroids. This Chinese-Swedish brand is also owned by Volvo’s parent Geely, but the & Co part of the name stands for Connected. These models are all about tech and sustainability, right down to seats made from recycled fishing lines.
Lynk’s greatest innovation surrounds its ownership model. You can buy an 01, but you can also lease, borrow or even share one with its registered keeper, using a smartphone app to access it for an hour or a month at a time.
|Founders:||Geely Automobile Holdings|
|Types of car:||SUVs|
Frequently asked questions about Swedish cars
It’s a testament to the evergreen appeal of Volvo’s aging XC40 that it remains the best-selling car in Sweden. Last year, it beat its XC60 stablemate to top spot in the sales charts, fending off the likes of Kia’s Niro and Volkswagen’s ID.4.
Volvo remains the bestselling car brand in Sweden, with its XC40 and XC60 SUVs leading the national sales charts. Now that Saab can’t compete to be among the best Swedish car brands, Volvo’s position as the bestselling car brand in Sweden has become unassailable.
Volvo is the brand most associated with Sweden, following Saab’s sad decline. Now owned by China’s Geely, Volvos are still designed and built in Sweden at the historic Torslanda and Skövde factories.
Saab staked a claim to make the best Swedish cars for many years, but following its decline, Volvo has led the way in terms of interior design and refined road manners, making it the undisputed luxury car brand in Sweden.