Reliability: Japan is way ahead


Japanese cars, in some instances at least, may be low on style and emotion, but when it comes to reliability they just can't be beaten.

That's the conclusion of the J D Power Index of Customer Satisfaction for cars in Britain, regarded as the biggest and most respected reliability guide.

There were 10 Japanese cars in the top 20 most reliable models for 2002 and four of them bore Toyota or Lexus badges. Under the vehicle quality heading, nine of the 10 best-rated cars were Japanese.

The 2002 survey involved Power researchers contacting 100,000 people who drove models first registered between September 1999 and August 2000. Cars of this age, it was felt, would have revealed their major faults while owners would have experience of dealers and servicing.

The league table lists 144 cars in all. Outright winner was the Toyota Yaris supermini with a CSI (Consumer Satisfaction Index) score of 88.1 per cent. Runner-up, with 85.8 per cent, was the Lexus IS200, from Toyota's upmarket division. In joint third place were the Jaguar XJ series and the Skoda Octavia, both achieving 85.1 per cent.

The Japanese domination of the Power survey is predictable. Last year's winner was the Lexus LS400 flagship and, going back to 1994, the cars which topped the list were the Subaru Legacy (once), Subaru Impreza (twice) and Toyota Corolla (four times).

Skoda, significantly, did far better than its Volkswagen parent. As well as the Octavia in third place, the Czech marque had its acclaimed Fabia supermini in sixth place with 84.6 per cent while the Felicia was 16th, with 82.8 per cent. Best Volkswagen was the Bora registering at 37th with a still high rating of 81.6 per cent, the same as the Mazda 323.

The survey, described as Britain's best guide to car reliability, suggests that there aren't really any bad cars any more. For instance, in the list of 144, no fewer than 57 score over 80 per cent.

What about those who trailed in at the bottom? Near the bottom of the league table was the Rover Mini, now out of production, with 69.4 per cent. Just ahead of it was another defunct Rover, the 800 with 72 per cent. Surprisingly, one Japanese was in lowly 14th place: the Suzuki Vitara at 72.2 per cent.

Looking at the survey segment by segment, the best supermini is the Toyota Yaris while its bigger sibling, the Corolla, is tops in the small family car class.

Best family car is the Skoda Octavia and in the executive or luxury class, the winner is the Lexus IS200. The Toyota Celica is the best among coupés and roadsters. The Toyota Picnic wins among MPVs and with the 4 x 4 breed, the accolade goes to the Subaru Forester.