Japanese makers top huge car reliability survey but Alfa Romeo make top 5 over Honda

Japanese makers top huge car reliability survey but Alfa Romeo make top 5 over Honda
Japanese makers top huge car reliability survey but Alfa Romeo make top 5 over Honda

Back in 1987 there was an advert with the punchline: ‘If only everything in life was as reliable as a Volkswagen’. That’s advertising, branding, marketing, all making you decide that really one brand is particularly reliable. Now look at the table below. VW is in the bottom half of the table for reliability by brand. That’s not advertising, that’s the current reality according to over 14,000 car owners.

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All the data from all those people was put together in a What Car? Reliability Survey, and it makes for fascinating reading. Buying a new car is a big deal, or even getting one on a finance deal, and nobody wants to have that experience ruined by breakdowns, odd gremlins or that sound of silence as the car coasts to a halt miles from anywhere at night.

There was a lot of data, looking at cars from new to three years old. Faults were grouped into things like battery, bodywork, brakes, engine electrics and so on. Time spent fixing the problem, cost of repairs – it was all sifted through and weighted according to the severity of the issue.

All of that was then crunched into numbers, which allows us to show a numerical display of how reliable brands are. So which is the most reliable car brand, and which is the worst? Read on – and be ready to be surprised.

Reliability by brand (cars 0-3yrs old)

Brand Score
1 Lexus 92.1%
2 Mitsubishi 90.8%
3 Toyota 89.6%
4 Suzuki 86.6%
5 Alfa Romeo 85.8%
6 Honda 84.9%
7 Hyundai 84.8%
8 MG 83.4%
9 Ford 82.1%
10 Subaru 81.8%
11 Kia 81.3%
12 Audi 80.4%
13 Skoda 80.1%
14 Mini 79.6%
15 Porsche 78.3%
16 Mazda 77.9%
17 BMW 77.6%
18 Vauxhall 76.4%
19 Dacia 75.9%
20 Renault 75.4%
21 Seat 75.2%
22 Volkswagen 74.7%
23 Mercedes-Benz 70.4%
24 Fiat 70.2%
25 Volvo 62.3%
26 Jaguar 61.9%
27 Peugeot 56.7%
28 Citroën 55.2%
29 Nissan 52.7%
30 Tesla 52.4%
31 Land Rover 50.6%
32 Jeep 42.1%

Reliability tables were also produced for car groupings. Here they are:

City Cars 

Rank

Make and model

Score

1 Toyota Aygo (2014-present) 100.0%
2 Kia Picanto (2011-2017) 89.6%
3 Skoda Citigo (2012-present) 88.5%
4 Hyundai i10 Hatchback (2014-present) 88.1%
5 Fiat 500 (2008-present)  85.2%
6 Fiat Panda (2012-present) 75.5%
7 Volkswagen Up (2012-present) 74.8%

Small Cars

Rank

Make and model

Score

1 Honda Jazz (2015-present) 100.0%
2 Toyota Yaris (2011-present) 94.2%
3 Audi A1 Sportback (2012-present) 93.1%
4 Honda Jazz (2008-2015) 91.6%
5 Renault Clio petrol (2012-present) 90.1%
6 Skoda Fabia hatch and estate (2015-present) 88.7%
7 Ford Fiesta (2008-2017) 88.3%
8 Hyundai i20 petrol (2015-present) 88.2%
9 Suzuki Swift (2011-2017) 87.7%
10 Audi A1 3dr (2010-present) 86.9%
11 Renault Clio diesel (2012-present) 86.4%
12 Mini hatchback diesel (2014-present) 85.9%
13 MG 3 (2013-present) 83.4%
14 Dacia Sandero (2013-present) 82.2%
15 Mini hatchback diesel (2014-present) 80.5%
16 Hyundai i20 (2009-2015) 78.7%
17 Seat Ibiza (2009-2017) 68.0%
18 Mini Clubman (2015-present) 64.6%
19 Volkswagen Polo (2009-2017) 58.8%
20 Mazda 2 (2015-present) 52.7%
21 Nissan Note (2013-present) 48.6%

 

Family Cars

Rank

Make and model

Score

1 Lexus CT 200h (2011-present) 100.0%
2 Honda Civic hatchback/Tourer (2012-2017) 94.5%
3 Hyundai i30 hatchback/Tourer (2012-2017) 91.7%
4 Ford Focus (2011 – present) 90.4%
5 BMW 1 Series petrol (2011 – present) 88.0%
6 Toyota Auris hatchback and estate (2012-present) 87.1%
7 Audi A3 petrol 3dr and Sportback (2013-present) 86.7%
8 BMW 1 Series diesel (2011-present) 84.0%
9 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer petrol (2014-present) 83.1%
10 Alfa Romeo Giulietta (2010-present) 82.6%
11 Skoda Octavia petrol hatchback and estate (2013-present) 82.1%
12 Mazda 3 petrol (2013-present) 82.0%
13 Mercedes-Benz A Class (2013-present) 81.2%
14 Volvo V40 petrol (2012-present) 79.9%
15 Seat Leon diesel hatchback and estate (2013 – present) 78.9%
16 Kia Cee’d (2012-present) 76.0%
17 Volkswagen Golf diesel hatchback and estate (2013-present) 74.8%
18 Volkswagen Golf petrol hatchback and estate (2013-present) 74.5%
19 Skoda Octavia diesel hatchback and estate (2013-present) 74.4%
20 Ford Focus (2011-present) 72.2%
21 Seat Leon petrol hatchback and estate (2013-present) 72.1%
22 Audi A3 diesel 3dr and Sportback (2013-present) 68.5%
23 Peugeot 308 hatchback and estate (2014-present) 66.6%
24 BMW 2 Series Active Tourer petrol (2014-present) 65.4%
25 Vauxhall Astra (2015-present) 62.3%
26 Mazda 3 diesel (2009-2013) 58.4%
27 Volvo V40 diesel (2012-present) 55.5%
28 Nissan Pulsar (2014-present) 48.3%

MPVs

Rank

Make and model

Score

1 Ford B-Max (2012-present) 91.6%
2 Ford C-Max (2010-present) 90.0%
3 Volkswagen Golf SV (2014-present) 83.2%
4 Seat Alhambra diesel (2010-present) 78.4%
5 Volkswagen Touran diesel (2015-present) 65.2%
6 Citroën C4/Grand C4 Picasso diesel (2013-present) 56.8%
7 Mercedes-Benz B-Class (2012-present) 46.2%

Small SUVs

Rank

Make and model

Score

1 Volkswagen Tiguan diesel (2016-present) 96.3%
2 Ford Kuga diesel (2012-present) 92.8%
3 Skoda Yeti Outdoor petrol (2013-present) 92.7%
4 Kia Soul (2014-present) 88.9%
5 Mazda CX3-3 (2015-present) 88.2%
6 Kia Sportage diesel (2010-2016) 87.7%
7 Nissan Juke diesel (2010-present) 87.2%
8 Hyundai Tucson diesel (2015-present) 86.6%
9 Peugeot 2008 (2013-present) 86.1%
10 Vauxhall Mokka diesel (2012-2016) 85.6%
11 Suzuki Vitara (2015-present) 84.2%
12 Mini Countryman (2010-2016) 81.3%
13 Renault Kadjar diesel (2015-present) 79.4%
14 Audi Q3 diesel (2011-present) 78.7%
15 Audi Q3 petrol (2011-present) 77.1%
16 Citroen C4 Cactus (2014-present) 76.3%
17 Skoda Yeti Outdoor petrol (2013-present) 75.5%
18 Hyundai ix35 diesel (2010-2015) 75.4%
19 Volkswagen Tiguan diesel (2008-2016) 74.6%
20 Vauxhall Mokka petrol (2012-2016) 74.2%
21 Renault Captur diesel (2013-present) 73.9%
22 Dacia Duster diesel (2013-present) 71.3%
23 Honda HR-V (2015-present) 70.3%
24 Skoda Yeti (2009-2016) 70.0%
25 Renault Captur petrol (2013-present) 66.7%
26 BMW X1 diesel (2015-present) 62.9%
27 Mercedes-Benz GLA (2014-2017) 58.6%
28 Seat Ateca (2016-present) 56.2%
29 Nissan Juke petrol (2010-present) 55.2%
30 Nissan Qashqai diesel (2014-present) 44.2%
31 Jeep Renegade (2015-present) 42.1%
32 Fiat 500X (2015-present) 32.3%
33 Nissan Qashqai petrol (2014-present) 28.9%

SUVs

Rank

Make and model

Score

1 Mitsubishi Outlander (2012-present) 91.2%
2 Porsche Cayenne (2010-present) 90.1%
3 Volkswagen Touareg diesel (2010-present) 87.1%
4 Honda CR-V (2012-present) 83.4%
5 Toyota RAV4 diesel (2013-present) 82.3%
6 Subaru Forester (2013-present) 81.8%
7 Skoda Kodiaq (2017-present) 79.6%
8 Porsche Macan petrol (2014-present) 79.4%
9 Mercedes-Benz GLC diesel (2015-present) 79.0%
10 Mazda CX-5 diesel (2012-2017) 78.0%
-11 BMW X5 diesel (2013-present) 76.9%
=11 BMW X3 (2010-present) 76.9%
13 Land Rover Freelander 2 2010-2014) 76.2%
14 Hyundai Santa Fe (2012-2015) 76.0%
15 Kia Sorento (2015-present) 71.8%
16 Jaguar F-Pace (2016-present) 70.7%
17 Audi Q5 (2008-2016) 68.1%
18 Kia Sorento (2010-2014) 67.3%
19 Nissan X-Trail (2014-present) 66.5%
20 Porsche Macan diesel (2014-present) 64.0%
21 Volvo XC60 (2008-2017) 63.6%
22 Range Rover diesel (2013-present) 55.8%
23 Land Rover Discovery diesel (2013-2016) 54.2%
24 Range Rover Evoque diesel (2011-present) 52.0%
25 Land Rover Discovery Sport diesel (2015-present) 43.8%
26 Volvo XC90 (2015-present) 22.6%
27 Range Rover Sport diesel (2013-present) 14.5%

Executive cars

Rank

Make and model

Score

1 Audi A3 saloon petrol (2013-present) 100.0%
2 Lexus IS (2013-present) 90.9%
3 Jaguar XE petrol (2015-present) 88.5%
4 BMW 6 Series Gran Coupé (2012-present) 87.5%
5 Ford Mondeo (2014-present) 86.3%
6 Skoda Superb hatchback/estate (2008-2015) 85.4%
7 Mazda 6 petrol saloon (2013-present) 85.0%
8 Audi A4 petrol saloon (2015-present) 81.8%
9 Mazda 6 diesel saloon/Tourer (2013-present) 81.4%
10 BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé (2014-present) 80.5%
11 BMW 3 Series diesel saloon/Touring (2012-present) 79.8%
12 Audi A4 Avant (2015-present) 78.4%
13 Mercedes-Benz C-Class petrol saloon (2014-present) 78.0%
14 Volkswagen Passat diesel saloon/estate (2015-present) 76.5%
=15 Vauxhall Insignia diesel hatchback (2009-2017) 74.7%
=15 Audi A4 diesel saloon (2015-present) 74.7%
17 Audi A3 diesel saloon (2013-present) 73.9%
18 BMW 3 Series Gran Turismo diesel (2013-present) 72.7%
19 Skoda Superb hatchback/estate (2015-present) 68.7%
20 Mercedes-Benz C-Class diesel saloon/estate (2014-present) 65.2%
21 BMW 3 Series petrol saloon (2012-present) 64.7%
22 Volvo S60/V60 (2010-present) 64.4%
23 Volkswagen CC diesel (2012-2016) 58.0%
24 Jaguar XE diesel (2015-present) 36.7%

Luxury Cars

Rank

Make and model

Score

1 Mercedes-Benz S-Class saloon (2013-present) 93.2%
2 Audi A6 saloon/Avant 2011-present 92.1%
3 Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloon/estate (2009-2016) 75.3%
4 Volvo V70 (2007-2013) 75.1%
5 Jaguar XF saloon/Sportbrake (2008-2015) 72.3%
6 Jaguar XF saloon (2015-present) 66.8%
7 BMW 5 Series saloon/Touring (2010-2017) 62.2%
8 Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloon (2016-present) 46.1%

Coupés and convertibles

Rank

Make and model

Score

1 Audi A3 Cabriolet (2014-present) 92.5%
2 BMW 2 Series Coupé/Convertible (2014-present) 90.8%
3 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Cabriolet (2013-present) 85.0%
4 BMW 4 Series Coupé/Convertible (2013-present) 79.8%
5 Porsche Boxster (2012-2016) 79.6%
6 Audi TT Coupé/Cabriolet (2014-present) 76.0%
7 Mercedes-Benz SLK (2011-2016) 73.6%
8 Mazda MX-5 convertible (2015-present) 71.0%

Electric vehicles

Rank

Make and model

Score

1 Nissan Leaf (2011-present) 93.9%
2 BMW i3 (2013-present) 88.5%
3 Renault Zoe (2013-present) 65.1%
4 Tesla Model S (2012-present) 52.4%

The Verdict

If you look at that first list of reliability by brand, it’s noticeable that in the top six only one isn’t Japanese and that is the perhaps surprising Italian brand of Alfa Romeo.

And if you’re looking at those premium brands, only Porsche just manages to get itself into the top half, all the rest are languishing in the bottom half. Spending a lot of money on your car doesn’t mean you’ll have a more reliable car – that’s one clear message.

So what if you decide that you simply want the most reliable of cars? Well, have a look at those which scored 100%. They’re a mixed bag. There’s the Audi A3 Saloon (the brand overall was 12th); the Honda Jazz (the brand was sixth); the Lexus CT200h (with the brand being first overall as well) and the Toyota Aygo (the brand getting a podium third place overall).

If you’re wondering what the common faults were, they related to sat nav and air con, so not actual engine issues. It’s these relatively new and sometimes optional parts that seem to cause the trouble, although lower down the ranking some of the bottom brands and models suffered from some major mechanical issues, to the extent that some owners had to part fund their repair.

So plenty to think about when you look at the glossy brochure and read all the soothing words. Remember the facts, and these are they. This reliability survey is at least reliable.

 

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