Car Choice: Look east for record-breaking reliability

Mary Reilly is 55, and is looking for a replacement for her much-loved Renault Clio. She covers around 20,000 miles a year for both work and leisure, and is looking for reliability. Mary has heard that Volkswagens are reliable, and is also intrigued by cars from the Far East. She has £8,000 to spend.

A car for the head

Mary is right to be intrigued by Far Eastern cars, which are generally agreed to be the most reliable you can buy. Recently, Japanese and Korean makes were adjudged by What Car? and warranty specialist Warranty Direct, as the cars least likely to break down. They are also typically cheaper to fix. Honda tops the standings in the annual car reliability study, recording an impressive 9 per cent failure rate. Mary might like to test drive the Korean Kia Cee'd which is roomy, easy to drive, and has the added appeal of a seven-year warranty. Fitted with the 1.6 CRDi engine it will officially return an impressive 60mpg. The basic specification is good as even the basic S model has air conditioning, remote locking, and electric windows. It is possible to buy a 2008 model from a Kia dealer with around 30,000 miles on the clock for £8,000. It will be LS specification, which means climate control air conditioning and even part-leather seats.

A car for the heart

To be just a little bit different, Mary should consider what is the most reliable marque of all Hondas. The British built Civic may not have some of the qualities of its rivals, but really nothing else looks as futuristic or interesting. Inside it has wonderful 3D instrumentation, although some drivers find that it reflects on the windows at night. Also the rear view is not that great, with a very sloped window and spoiler. But these cars have door mirrors, and after a while a good driver will get used to that sort of issue. The diesel 2.2 is probably the best and most economical power plant for Mary, as it is supposed to return around 55mpg. The specification is very decent, as the five door, which Mary should buy, has climate control air conditioning, electric windows and six airbags. In fact, the Civic is a safe car and has stability control to help prevent skids. There are plenty of Civics around, and £8,000 would buy a 2008 2.2 i-CTDi model from a car dealer. This model will be either in the high specification SE or ES trim.

Looking to buy?

Please write to Car Choice, Features, Independent on Sunday, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5HF or email James Ruppert at carchoice@, giving your age, address and phone number, details of the type of vehicle in which you are interested, and your budget.