LET us not forget that Germany, almost single-handed, invented the motor car. Four Germans, all closely associated with each other, are credited with producing the world's first internal combustion engine and, consequently, the world's first motorised vehicles. The four were Nicolaus August Otto who developed the four-stroke or 'Ott-cycle' engine, Wilhelm Maybach, Gottleib Daimler and Karl Benz. Today, Daimler-Benz is a vast conglomerate, of course, yet it is still producing innovative and highly successful, luxury vehicles - the beautifully crafted Mercedes-Benz range, named after Daimler's daughter, Mercedes. Top-of-the range is the S class which, despite lukewarm response from much of the rest of the world, has sold in considerable numbers in Hong Kong. Mercedes' C class has proved to be the company's best seller worldwide. Nearest competitor in the marketplace is luxury car producer BMW. The Bavarian manufacturer manages to convey a sporting as well as a luxury image but, in reality, at least as far as Hong Kong is concerned, the emphasis is on pampered comfort. The BMW 7-series, despite being a little long in the tooth compared with some of its rivals, has been consistently updated and the V8 740i can be considered one of the best sporting saloons in the world. Top seller in the BMW range is the attractive 3-series, one of the best-handling small compacts available. Although not strictly German, Britain's Rover Group was acquired by BMW in a spectacular deal in early 1994. The jewel in the crown, as far as BMW was concerned, was the Land Rover and Range Rover four-wheel-drive production. Effectively, Porsche is reduced to one model, having stopped production of the front-engined water-cooled 928 and 968 models. The 911, in various guises, is the company's major thrust while it develops the eagerly-awaited Boxster. Meanwhile, other German manufacturers marketing cars in Hong Kong include Ford, Opel and the Volkswagen-Audi Group (VAG). Of these three, Opel is comfortably ahead in terms of unit sales, although the introduction this year of the superb Audi A8 and its smaller cousin, the A4, may redress the balance.