Japanese cars are the most dependable motors on the market, and high-end Teslas are most likely to let their owners down.
That’s according to a keenly-watched reliability survey, which found that Suzuki along with four other Japanese brands were among the top six most robust, while the US electric car company has the shakiest track record.
The What Car? Reliability Survey also listed the most and least dependable new models you can buy in showrooms today, based on the feedback of more than 18,000 motorists.
Meanwhile, exclusive data released to This is Money and MailOnline also tells you which used cars you can rely on… and which ones you can’t.
Top of the charts: Suzuki has been named the most reliable car brand by a new poll of more than 18,000 drivers. The Sx4 S-Cross (pictured) was named the joint most dependable new car in the What Car? Reliability Survey 2018
The survey is one of the biggest of its kind in the UK, processing the feedback of 18,284 owners of some 159 models spanning 31 different brands.
Suzuki, which mainly makes cheap and cheerful small cars and 4x4s, topped the overall manufacturer rankings for new cars up to four years old with a reliability score of 97.7 per cent, joined by Lexus, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Subaru in the top six.
The only non-Japanese mark in the top order was Korean firm Kia, taking fourth spot, with sister brand Hyundai in ninth.
At the opposite end of the spectrum it was American luxury electric-car giant Tesla that recorded the worst reliability track record.
Despite the cheapest brand new Tesla setting buyers back more than £60,000, its reliability score of 57.3 per cent was by far the worst rating.
Land Rover – which was second from bottom – scored at 76.5 per cent for reliability of cars between one and four years old.
Elon Musk’s Tesla came out bottom of the brand rankings with a lowly reliability score of just 57.3%. The £60,000 Model S (pictured) was also named the least reliable model
Most (and least) reliable car brands
1. Suzuki – 97.7%
2. Lexus – 97.5%
3. Toyota – 96.8%
=4. Kia – 95.8%
=4. Mitsubishi – 95.8%
=4. Subaru – 95.8%
7. Skoda – 95.6%
8. Alfa Romeo – 95.5%
9. Hyundai – 95.4%
10. Seat – 95.2%
=11. Vauxhall – 94.6%
=11. Mazda – 94.6%
13. Dacia – 94.1%
14. Fiat – 94.0%
15. Honda – 93.8%
16. BMW – 93.4%
17. Volkswagen – 92.9%
18. Ford – 92.7%
19. Renault – 91.7%
=20. Audi – 91.5%
=20. Volvo – 91.5%
22. Mini – 91.2%
23. Porsche – 90.9%
24. Peugeot – 89.4%
25. Citroen – 88.1%
26. Mercedes-Benz – 88.0%
27. Nissan – 87.1%
28. Jaguar – 84.9%
29. Jeep – 82.7%
30. Land Rover – 76.5%
31. Tesla – 57.3%
Source: What Car? Reliability Survey 2018
The trend continued when the data revealed which specific models were most and least reliable.
For newer cars it was the current Toyota Yaris and Suxuki SX4 S-Cross that led the table, both recording a staggering 100 per cent dependability record, according to their owners.
The electric Nissan Leaf took third spot, ahead of the Toyota RAV4 and BMW 3 Series.
Anchoring the standings was the Tesla Model S, which costs from £61,600 in the UK.
Owners’ reports of breakdowns and necessary repairs saw it gain a reliability score of just 50.9 per cent – almost half that of the most dependable Japanese cars.
And it doesn’t make favourable reading for Land Rover either, with three of its models – the Discovery Sport, Range Rover and Range Rover Evoque – among the top five models with the poorest owner ratings.
The Toyota Yaris (left) was the model with the joint highest reliability score of 100%. The recently replaced Nissan Leaf (right) ranked at number 3, making it the most dependable electric car
Most and least reliable new models
=1. Toyota Yaris (2011 – Present) – 100.0%
=1. Suzuki Sx4 S-Cross (2013 – Present) – 100.0%
3. Nissan Leaf (2011 – 2017) – 99.7%
4. Toyota RAV 4X4 (2013 – 2018) – 99.6%
5. BMW 3 Series (2005 – 2014) – 99.5%
Source: What Car? Reliability Survey 2018
1. Tesla Model S (2013 – Present) – 50.9%
2. Range Rover (2013 – present) – 67.3%
3. Ford Edge Diesel (2016 – present) – 70.7%
4. Range Rover Evoque (2011 – present) – 73.2%
5. Land Rover Discovery Sport (2015 – present) – 74.7%
Look away Land Rover: The British marque had three separate models in the list of the 5 most unreliable new cars. That included the £81,500 Range Rover (pictured) with a score of just 67.3%
Overall, around 30 per cent of the respondents with cars less than four years old said their car had suffered at least one fault in the past 12 months.
Steve Huntingford, editor of What Car?, said: ‘Reliability is a huge consideration for any prospective car buyer, as your car is likely to be your second biggest monthly expense after mortgage or rent payments.
‘You want your car to last and you don’t want to have to fork out huge amounts to fix faults and keep it running.
‘Our annual survey has shown that it is Japanese models that continue to dominate the top of the reliability rankings, both for car model and brand rankings.’
Used cars you can – and can’t – count on
This is Money has teamed up with What Car? to also reveal which older used cars you should and shouldn’t consider buying on the second-hand market.
This is based on the feedback from owners of cars that are between 4 and 12 years of age – so those built between 2014 and 2006.
Here’s are the most reliable five models, and the ones with the worst dependability score from their owners.
Most reliable used cars
1. Toyota RAV4 (2013-2018) – 100% reliability score
The Toyota RAV4 was designed to be a robust offroader. Glowing owner feedback saw it score a remarkable 100% reliability rating
One of the trim levels of this generation of RAV4 is ‘Invincible’. It lives up to the name. No faults were reported on pre-2015 cars.
2. Skoda Citigo (2012-present) – 99.3% reliability score
The Citigo is Skoda’s answer to cheap and cheerful motoring. It’s also dependable, according to owners
Only six per cent of Citigos had a problem. Brakes and braking systems were the only isues, though cars remained driveable and were fixed under warranty the same day.
3. Toyota Yaris Hybrid (2011-present) – 99.1% reliability score
The Yaris Hybrid was, for some time, one of the smallest cars on sale with a combination of petrol and electric power. It’s as reliable as it is green
Only eight per cent of cars had a problem, with those being minor like battery and automatic window wipers. All cars fixed in less than a day and repair bills didn’t exceed £100.
4. BMW X5 (2013-present) – 98.9% reliability score
WHile earlier versions of the X5 are remembered for being flaky when it comes to reliability, the current model is the complete opposite
Only seven per cent of X5s had an issue, with exhausts being the only fault listed. All cars were fixed under warranty the same day.
5. Lexus CT (2011-present) – 98.8% reliability score
Lexus has always had a very strong reliability track record, frequently topping these surveys. The CT hatchback is no different
Just five per cent of Lexus’ hybrid hatchback had to be repaired, with radio, sat nav and tyre pressure warning systems being minor headaches. All cars could still be driven and were repaired the same day under warranty.
Least reliable used cars
1. Alfa Mito (2008-present) – 27.7% reliability score
It’s no surprise to see an Alfa in the list. The Mito scored a woeful 27.7% reliability rating, based on owner feedback
More than two in five cars had at least one fault. A quarter of owners reported suspension problems, while 21 per cent had gearbox and clutch issues. Around half remained driveable and most were repaired under warranty, but a small percentage of owners had to pay out more than £1,500 when billed by garages.
2. Range Rover (2002-2013) – 35.4% reliability score
Land Rover just can’t shake that poor reliability track record. For a car that’s supposed to be able to handle mountains it seems to only be scaling service lifts in repair garages
Some 56 per cent of cars had an issue. Most common of these problems was the battery (28 per cent) followed by repairs to the engine, engine electrics, exhaust, fuel system, suspension and wheels and tyres, all of which occurred on 11 per cent of cars. Most cars could still be driven, but more than half of owners paid out between £500 and £1,000.
3. Jaguar XJ (2010-present) – 38.1% reliability score
The Jaguar XJ is the British brand’s answer to the popular German luxury saloon cars. Unfortunately, they’re more problematic than premium
Like the Range Rover, 56 per cent of cars had a fault. A quarter of these were engine electrics while 13 per cent of models had to have the brakes, engine or exterior lights repaired. Two-thirds of cars could still be driven, but lots of owners paid out £300 to £500.
4. Volkswagen Polo (2002-2009) 38.4% reliability score
Many younger drivers might be tempted by a second-hand Polo like this, but What Car? readers say they often suffer from issues
Two in five cars had a fault, of which 27 per cent were related to the brakes and 20 per cent linked to the suspension components. More than half couldn’t be driven and took more than a day to fix, but most repair bills were below £200.
5. BMW 1 Series (2004-2011) – 40.1% reliability score
The first-generation 1 Series was a huge step into the hatchback market for BMW. It appears this original attempt isn’t proving all that reliable
Almost three in five cars (58 per cent) had problems. Some 16 per cent were battery and engine-related while 13 per cent were brake issues. Two-thirds of cars could still be driven, but some repair bills topped £1,500.
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