THE most reliable new car in Britain costs half as much as the most unreliable one, according to tests on 47,000 vehicles by consumer watchdogs.
Experts admitted they were surprised the Skoda Yeti 4x4 came out top of their annual study.
At a top price of £24,000, it is just under half the £50,000 price tag on Britain’s most unreliable model, the Range Rover Sport, despite both being 4x4s.
While Skoda has an enviable reputation for making good value and trustworthy models, 4x4s rarely feature in the annual new car test by Which?
But the consumer group discovered that not a single owner of a petrol-powered Yeti suffered a breakdown in the past 12 months and any repairs were very minor.
It scored a massive 97.9 per cent total reliability score, placing it above the compact cars and family saloons that traditionally top the table. Meanwhile, Range Rover’s position at the bottom is less surprising, the consumer watchdog said, because its maker, Land Rover, has had a long history of unreliable models.
The Sport, popular with footballer’s wives and other wealthy drivers, tends to suffer major, expensive repairs with the engine cooling unit and electronic braking among the problems.
The model received just 63.4 per cent overall rating in the tests after 13 per cent of owners said they had broken down in the past year.
Which? said: “The most reliable of all cars in 2012 is a 4x4 – historically one of the least reliable car classes of them all.
“The model taking the glory is Skoda’s petrol-powered Yeti. All the owners who gave feedback said they hadn’t suffered a single breakdown in the previous 12 months.”
The diesel version fared less well but still managed 93 per cent.
But Which? added: “To maintain some sort of equilibrium, one particular SUV [sport utility vehicle] is also the worst rated car for reliability in 2012.
“Unsurprisingly it’s a Land Rover, a brand that’s fared badly for reliability in previous years, too.
“In fact it’s the Range Rover Sport – a £50,000 plus car.”
Within the individual categories, the most reliable supermini is the Citroën C1 and the worst is, surprisingly, a Toyota – the IQ.
This is mainly down to a recall by the Japanese giant to fix a steering problem. Without that problem, experts say it would have been much nearer to its usual position towards the top.
Jaguar’s discontinued X-Type is the least reliable large car.