Britain’s best car dealer networks have been revealed as dealers in some parts of the country prepare to reopen their showrooms.
New research has indentified the brands with the most highly regarded dealers for servicing and repairs, with Japanese manufacturers dominating proceedings.
In contrast several premium European brands languished near the bottom of the table for the standard of their dealers’ work.
The research by What Car? asked more than 18,000 drivers about their experiences with franchised and independent dealers representing 29 major car brands. The study polled owners of cars up to 20 years old who used brand-specific dealerships, asking about the quality of their work, perceived value for money and friendliness of staff. It then ranked franchised and independent dealers separately.
Another win for Lexus
Lexus, which was recently rated the UK’s best car brand, headed the ranking for franchised dealers, with an overall satisfaction rating of 94.1 per cent. Behind it, Subaru dealers achieved a 91.8 per cent approval rating, with Honda (91.3 per cent) and Suzuki (90.6 per cent) close behind. Lexus’s sister brand Toyota tied with Volvo for fifth place, with a rating of 89.7 per cent.
Japanese brands also fared well among customers who use independent dealers. Suzuki topped the list, with a 95.8 per cent satisfaction rating, with Lexus close behind (95 per cent). Citroen, whose franchised dealers place 11th, was third, with 93.9 per cent, ahead of Honda (93.8 per cent) and Jaguar (93.6 per cent).
Less than premium experience
The news wasn’t so good for three of the country’s most popular premium marques. Although Land Rover achieved a satisfaction rating of 82.7 per cent, that put it dead last in the franchised dealer stakes. Just above it sat German rivals Audi and Mercedes-Benz, whose dealer workshops attained ratings of 83.3 per cent and 83.5 per cent respectively. In contrast, independent Mercedes dealers were ranked sixth by customers and Audi’s were joint 10th.
Fiat, Renault and Vauxhall dealers were ranked worst among independents but all still attained satisfaction ratings of more than 90 per cent - 90.7, 91.1 and 91.2 respectively.
What Car? editor, Steve Huntingford, said: “With the lockdown starting to lift, many drivers will need to have their car serviced or checked by professional technicians. Our research shows which brands are seen to offer the best satisfaction and value for money. With the top five places in our ratings occupied by Japanese brands, it’s clear these companies really appreciate the difference good customer service can make.
“On this evidence, owning a car from a premium brand is no guarantee of top-level service, with the bottom three places in our chart occupied by premium franchises.
“If your brand’s official service department is at the bottom of the chart, you might be happier switching to an independent service agent but it’s not guaranteed – so motorists need to do their research and be prepared to vote with their feet and take their custom elsewhere if they’re unhappy with the service they receive.”