German cars in last place for reliability, say drivers

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The Independent Online

German cars are among the most likely to develop faults or break down, according to a survey of owners published today.

German cars are among the most likely to develop faults or break down, according to a survey of owners published today.

Audi, BMW and Volkswagen were all rated "poor" for reliability in the study by the Consumers' Association, while cars from Japanese and Korean manufacturers scored the highest with drivers.

The survey found money does not always buy trouble-free motoring, with expensive models among the least reliable.

Bottom for the second year running was Audi's sporty TT model, which ranges in price from £20,725 to almost £32,000 on the road. Of 43 owners with a TT up to two years old, 21 per cent said their car had broken down in the past 12 months.

Second to last was the E-Class from German car-maker Mercedes-Benz, with 16 per cent of the 44 examples in the survey needing attention.

Among the most reliable cars was Hyundai's Getz, which starts at around £6,995 on the road. None of the 30 in the survey had broken down in the past year. The same was true for MG's ZT and ZT-T, Mazda's 323 and Toyota's Corolla and Corolla Verso models.

Close behind, with 99 per cent reliability, were the Honda Civic, CR-V and Jazz, plus the Mazda 6 and Peugeot 406 and 406 Coupe. The Consumers' Association surveyed 34,277 cars up to eight years old from readers of its magazine Which?. Owners were asked to comment on breakdowns, faults or "niggles" in the past 12 months.

Marques which dropped from "average" last year to "poor" this time were: Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Daewoo and Saab. They joined Citroën, Fiat, Land Rover, Peugeot, Renault, Rover, Vauxhall and VW in the bottom category.

The manufacturers ranked as "excellent" for reliability this year were: Honda, Hyundai, Lexus, Mazda, Toyota and Suzuki, which moved up from "good" in last year's survey.

Malcolm Coles, the editor of Which?, says: "German cars have always been expensive, but our survey reveals a worrying drop in reliability that makes them look distinctly over-priced. Audi, BMW and VW may be the choice of more badge-conscious buyers, but owners of Japanese cars are far less likely to spend time on the hard shoulder or face hefty garage bills."

A Mercedes spokesman said: "The findings here contradict those from other quality reports elsewhere."

Duncan Forrester, the media relations manager at BMW, said: "The findings of this year's report, based on 1,388 BMW cars, don't correlate with our experience."

Paul Buckett, the head of press and public relations at VW, also questioned the findings of the survey. "The sample size for the survey is very small," he said. "It is also very curious to us that the VW Bora is classed near the top for reliability and the Golf, which is technically almost identical, is low down."

In a statement, Audi said: "Reliability figures have been temporarily low due to an exceptional and unique ignition coil problem, which was rectified for production during 2003."