Three-pointed star remained the top high-end car brand worldwide, after overtaking BMW in 2016.

Stuttgart, Germany - Mercedes-Benz has defended its top spot as the world's biggest luxury carmaker in 2017, with a surge in sales, particularly in China, enabling it to clock up another record year.

The Stuttgart-based group reported sales of about 2.3 million cars in 2017, an increase of almost 10 percent on the figure for 2016 and its seventh consecutive record year.

Much of the growth was attributable to Mercedes' breakneck expansion in China, where sales grew by 26 percent, and the ever-rising appeal of its SUVs, with the luxury four-wheel-drive vehicles accounting for more than one in three sales worldwide.

The group claimed its three-pointed star remained the top high-end car brand worldwide, after overtaking Munich-based rival BMW in 2016. BMW has yet to release full-year sales figures for 2017, but the latest release from November shows the group lagging significantly behind Mercedes-Benz.

Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of Mercedes-Benz' parent company Daimler, said: "Success in our core business provides the basis for us to actively shape the mobility of the future."

Like other carmakers, Mercedes-Benz is investing heavily in hybrid and all-electric vehicles, as well as more efficient, less polluting traditional combustion engines, as manufacturers race to polish up their environmental credentials and meet ever more stringent emissions requirements.

Agence France-Presse