Honda Shines in British Reliability Survey; Land Rover and Chrysler Share Wooden Spoon

By Andy Bannister


What’s claimed to be Britain’s biggest ever car reliability survey, covering vehicles up to eight years old, has just been published by the consumer champion magazine, Which?

Famously the publication carries no advertising so is not swayed by fear that telling it like it is will harm revenue. It surveyed 90,000 car owners about breakdowns, problems and niggles with their cars, and singled out the best and worst performers.

Honda won the title of best manufacturer, with others in the “very good” reliability category all being fellow Japanese brands – respectively Toyota, Daihatsu, Lexus, Mazda, Subaru and Suzuki.

The best non-Japanese make was Hyundai, rated “good” along with Mitsubishi and the top European performer, Porsche.

“Average” scores were recorded by, in descending order, Mini, Nissan, Ford, BMW, Skoda, Kia, Proton (the small Malaysian manufacturer), Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Jaguar.

Lower down the scale, “poor” reliability ratings were awarded to Vauxhall (GM’s British brand), Citroën, Volvo, Volkswagen, Peugeot, Smart, Chevrolet/Daewoo and Jeep.

Finally, Saab, Seat, MG/Rover, Alfa Romeo, Fiat, Renault, Land Rover and Chrysler/Dodge were ignominiously rated as “very poor”.

The most reliable cars identified in the survey were the Honda Jazz (the European name for the Fit supermini), Volvo’s C30 and the Skoda Fabia, although sample sizes varied and the Jazz’s performance was by far the most convincing. It’s one of the more expensive and duller superminis on the market but clearly buying one has its compensations according to legions of satisfied owners, who’ll be hoping next year’s new model carries on the trend.

Honda’s excellent overall performance masked the poor performance of its British-built Civic hatchback, which finished a surprise bottom of the medium category. However, another Anglo-Japanese offering, the Nissan Qasqhai was near the top of the same class.

Land Rover’s Discovery (LR3) was bottom of the SUV category, and the new and much-praised Ford Galaxy and S-Max were the lowest-rated MPVs and some of the poorest scoring vehicles surveyed, although Ford redeemed itself elsewhere with solid performances from the Mondeo and Focus.

Audi seems to have fixed glitches with its TT, which finished joint top of the sports car section alongside Mazda’s MX-5, with all cars in this sub-group doing better than average. Volkswagen’s Passat was the poorest rated larger car, and the Jaguar S-Type the dud of the luxury sector.

It’s interesting this survey contradicts the generally-accepted wisdom here in the UK that German cars are among the most reliable money can buy, with the Japanese comprehensively outperforming them in the experience of real consumers.

The Koreans, especially Hyundai, also put in a strong showing against Europe’s finest, yet still tend not to be taken seriously by many buyers. Sadly, the dismal ratings of the French and Italians indicate some things never change.

Small, low-priced cars also seem to perform better overall in the reliability stakes than larger ones, showing that spending more isn’t necessarily a guarantee of trouble-free motoring.

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Author: Andy Bannister

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  1. It just about mirrors the results here in America, so I’m not so surprised.

  2. Is it still the case over there in the UK that Hondas (especially the Jazz) are considered pensioners’ cars?

    I ask that because here in the US I see nothing but college and high school kids driving the Honda Fit, and having fun with it too.

  3. anglophile, I wondered the same thing about Honda in the UK, having the image of being old person/pensioners’ cars?

    Here in Quebec, Canada. The Civic (Accord had morphed into “grand’pa car” like the Camry) into a “Gino Civic” (French term to design, a macho guy driving a Civic) just like the “Gino Camaro” while in France and Belgium they are nicknamed the Jacky

  4. Yes it’s true, Honda cars in the UK appeal principally to older folks – youngsters looking for a new supermini would most likely choose a Vauxhall Corsa or Renault Clio and leave the Jazz for their grandparents. Honda’s marketing seems curiously unable to shake off the marque’s traditional pipe-and-slippers image for most models – the exception being the new Civic hatchback which wins through largely thanks to its stand-out styling.

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