LUXURY car buyers are paying over the odds because of the poor reliability of “premium” brands such as Land Rover and Alfa Romeo, the authors of a used-car survey said today.
The British-built off-roaders were found to be by far the least reliable make, with the self-titled “stylish” Italian manufacturer’s cars second worst, according What Car? magazine and insurer Warranty Direct.
By contrast, Japanese car-makers continued to dominate the top of the reliability survey, with Honda pre-eminent for the seventh year in a row.
The annual survey, of 50,000 cars between three and ten years old, showed Land Rovers had a 71 per cent chance of breaking down compared to just 10 per cent for Hondas. Alfa Romeos were next worst, at 55 per cent, followed by Jeep and Renault at 52 per cent.
However, other luxury car brands, such as Saab, MG, Mercedes Benz, Jaguar, Audi and BMW were all found to have a four in ten chance or greater of breaking down.
Warranty Direct said owners of such marques expected better.
Managing director Duncan McClure Fisher said: “For most used car buyers, there are only a couple of factors that are taken into account when choosing a car. Reliability is always one of the top priorities.
“Cars have become increasingly complex, with lots of gadgetry on board, especially on executive models, where buyers expect more and more bang for their buck.
“Owners of these cars pay over the odds for the premium badge, but our study shows they could also be paying over the odds just to keep the car on the road.”
What Car? editor-in-chief Chas Hallett said: “What will be surprising to many is the fact that several of the more desirable brands did not fare so well regarding reliability, and the cost of their repairs are high. They need to do better.”
At the other end of the scale, Chevrolet was the only non-Asian manufacturer in the top ten, with Honda seven percentage points above runner-up Toyota.
Lexus, Suzuki and Subaru followed – all with a one-in-five chance or less of breaking down.
Mr Hallett said: “Reliability is so important to motorists, especially when times are tough. Japanese car makers really do deliver on reliability and Honda is exceptionally good at this.”
Among the biggest manufacturers, Ford was placed equal 12th with Skoda, with a 31 per cent chance of a breakdown, while Vauxhall was 24th at 40 per cent.
The survey found axle and suspension problems were the most common faults reported by motorists, which accounted for 29 per cent of breakdowns and which were blamed on the poor state of the UK’s roads.
The Royal Automobile Club Foundation warned buyers the least reliable cars could be around for a long time to come.
Spokesman Philip Gomm said: “The bad news for manufacturers at the bottom of the list is that because cars now have such long life-spans they could be propping up everyone else for a while to come. The good news is that if they design out the flaws, their newer models could put them at the top of the table for an equally lengthy period.”