Is your car reliable?
Automobile repairs are costly. Even in Thailand.
Even if you help. In fact, a friend of mine in Australia had a sign on
his workshop wall which read, “Labour charges: $20 per hour. If you
watch $40 per hour. If you help $80 per hour.” Anyone who has worked
in the repair industry would understand and agree with his sentiments!
Having accepted the fact that repairs are expensive, and many people
do not want down-time with their vehicles, the automotive industry
seemed to look at this concept in two ways. First, do nothing, as
people only keep a car around three years, and not much goes wrong in
that time, basically playing the percentage game; or deliberately
engineer your products so that they have a longer life, extending into
around 10 years before things go wrong.
The Japanese automakers chose the second alternative. The reason is
simple. When a make becomes known for its reliability, new car buyers
will go to that make. It very quickly got into the collective
consciousness that Honda, Toyota and Nissan build reliable motor cars,
so when it becomes time to select a new car, what will it be? For
many, it is a Honda, Toyota or Nissan. Believe me when I tell you that
‘performance’, ‘road holding’ or multiple air bags do not get
people to buy that brand. The perceived notion that this car will not
break down is the crucial factor.
I came across some very interesting statistics the other day, where a
company called Warranty Direct made available their data on the
vehicles requiring the most amounts of time and money spent for
repairs (a sum that Warranty Direct obviously underwrites). Turn that
list upside down, and you have an indicator to which cars required the
least amount of repairs and downtime. A fairly good index of
Number 1 went to Honda with the Accord, and wonder of wonders, the
Japanese automotive industry supplied every car in the Top 10, and an
amazing 16 of the Top 20. The highest placed non-Japanese model was
the British built Jaguar X-Type in position 13 with the German
automotive industry first appearance coming in at number 25.
Volvo’s S/V40 was the highest placed Swedish manufacturer in 15th,
with the USA’s most popular manufacturer, Ford, delivering its best
ranked model, the Ka, in 22nd. Hyundai’s Lantra was the pick of the
Koreans at 24, and the Citroen Xsara was the best-placed French model
at number 26. The Mercedes SLK split these two at 25. The higher
purchase price apparently does not guarantee fewer breakdowns!
And what about Toyota? This company is well on the way to becoming the
world’s number 1 and on the results of this survey, it fully
deserves to get there. It scored as well as any other manufacturer in
the top ten cars with two contenders, but also took eleventh spot with
the Lexus IS 200, fourteenth with the Landcruiser, 19th with the
Carina E, and 21st with the Lexus 400 - six cars in the top 21
represents a fantastic effort but a look down the list confirms what
we’d always suspected - they have been building the most reliable
cars for a long time - long product lines such as the Celica and
Corolla are also there. Those cars have been produced for 30 years in
vast numbers - it’s not just one very reliable model here and there.
The collective consciousness is quite correct in its thinking.
According to Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct, “Used car
buyers are considerably more cautious. Japanese models may not be the
most charismatic but you’re unlikely to spend a great deal of money
and time in the garage keeping it on the road.”
So here are the top 10 most reliable cars according to Warranty
Direct, and their description of them:
1 - Honda Accord - A classy package, well put together and feels more
special than the average family car. Superb engines and value for
money. 2 - Subaru Forester - Not quite an off roader, much more than
an estate with a sporty edge, making it the perfect combination. Great
all round buy.
3 - Mazda MX-5 - Blueprint for the modern roadster with sweet handling
and engines to match. Extremely easy to live with.
4 - Mitsubishi Carisma - Despite the name, not that interesting to
look at or drive, but that’s not the point. Here is a no-nonsense
hatchback that won’t let you down.
5 - Toyota Yaris - Superminis don’t come better. Bags of room and
perky engines. Probably the best small car buy.
6 - Honda Civic - Solid build quality and good engines are just part
of the appeal, the Civic is one of the most spacious small cars
around. Great value.
7 - Nissan Almera - A dull package, but that’s no reason to dismiss
the Almera which is practical and perfect for the smaller family who
need a big boot and utter reliability.
8 - Honda CR-V - Proof that you don’t need an XXXL 4x4. Here is a
four-wheel drive estate that is flexible, easy to drive and own.
9 - Toyota RAV4 - So few four-wheel drives are fun to drive. This car
is suitably sporty, but very practical. Expensive used buy but worth
10 - Nissan Micra - The driving school favourite. Tough, fairly roomy,
but with its light controls is easy to steer around town.
Some of those vehicles are not available in this country, but the
majority are, and the public domain knowledge (or feelings) on
reliability knows no national frontiers. Ask anyone about the Jaguar
XJ6 and they will tell you that this was the car you needed two of, so
that you had one to drive when the first one was being repaired. And
that will be told you in all countries, and by people who have never
owned one. Public opinion has a much greater impact than the
automakers would like to admit to. The Japanese have won the top 10,
and this is remembered.
So what about the rest? Look through this list and see if yours is
mentioned. 11 Lexus IS 200, 12 Mazda 626, 13 Jaguar X-Type, 14 Toyota
Landcruiser, 15 Volvo S/V40, 16 MINI (BMW), 17 Suzuki Vitara, 18 Mazda
323, 19 Toyota Carina E, 20 Saab 9-5, 21 Lexus LS400, 22 Ford Ka, 23
Rover 45, 24 Hyundai Lantra, 25 Mercedes SLK, 26 Citroen Xsara, 27
Ford Cougar, 28 Subaru Impreza, 29 Skoda Octavia, 30 Audi A4, 31
Nissan Primera, 32 Toyota Avensis, 33 Volvo 850, 34 Vauxhall Corsa, 35
Seat Toledo, 36 Volkswagen Golf, 37 Daewoo Lanos, 38 Fiat Brava, 39
Hyundai Coupe, 40 Mitsubishi Shogun, 41 Rover 2, 42 Mercedes CLK, 43
Fiat Marea, 44 Ford Focus, 45 Peugeot 106, 46 MG MG TF, 47 BMW Z3, 48
Hyundai Accent, 49 Volkswagen Polo, 50 Fiat Punto, 51 Vauxhall Zafira,
52 Mercedes C-class, 53 Volvo S60, 54 Toyota MR2, 55 Mazda Xedos 6, 56
Ford Puma, 57 Vauxhall Astra, 58 Vauxhall Omega, 59 Chrysler Neon, 60
Audi A2, 61 Ford Fiesta, 62 Ford Mondeo, 63 Vauxhall Corsa, 64 Citroen
Saxo, 65 BMW 3 Series, 66 Vauxhall Vectra, 67 Isuzu Troope,r 68
Mercedes M-Class, 69 Subaru Legacy, 70 Rover 400, 71 Fiat Ulysse, 72
Mercedes E-Class, 73 Renault Clio, 74 Toyota Celica, 75 Peugeot 306,
76 Peugeot 406, 77 Volvo S70, 78 Rover 75, 79 Daewoo Matiz, 80 Peugeot
206, 81 Mazda MX-3, 82 Vauxhall Tigra, 83 Seat Ibiza, 84 Peugeot 106,
85 Renault Megane, 86 Peugeot 406, 87 Saab 9-3, 88 Audi A3, 89 BMW X5
90, Mercedes S-class, 91 Toyota Corolla, 92 Seat Alhambra, 93 BMW
5-series, 94 Daewoo Nubira, 95 Alfa Romeo 145, 96 Saab 900, 97 Mazda
MX-6, 98 Jaguar S-Type, 99 Daewoo Leganza and 100 Porsche Boxster.
However, it should be remembered that this list covers vehicles with
‘standard’ manufacturer’s warranty, those with extended
warranties are not properly represented, but the top 20 list looks
pretty accurate to me.
BMW’s incredibly ugly Concept Mille Miglia
328 Mille Miglia Concept
The BMW 328 was one of the vehicles that conquered the
legendary Mille Miglia, and at this year’s event, BMW unveiled a Mille Miglia
concept, apparently based on the Z4 coupe, and embodying the lines of the
GoAuto magazine asked if this the next-generation Z4 Coupe - or simply a flight
of BMW’s fantasy as the German maker indulges in a nostalgic look back at its
Either way, BMW’s uncharacteristic move to reveal an all-new concept at the
2006 Mille Miglia – an annual rally resurrected in 1977 to celebrate one of
the world’s great motor races – in Brescia, Italy on May 10 has certainly
got tongues wagging.
Built on a modified version of the forthcoming Z4 M Coupe’s drivetrain and
suspension, the BMW Concept Coupe Mille Miglia 2006 appears primarily to pay
tribute to BMW’s legendary 328 Mille Miglia Touring Coupe, which became the
first car to win both an original Mille Miglia race (in 1940) and a modern-day
revival version (in 2004).The original 328 racer’s average speed of 166.7 km/h
over the 1940 event’s 1000km remains a record today and the Concept Coupe pays
homage to BMW’s Mille heroes, 22 of which have entered for the 2006 event.
It also takes styling cues from the Z4 Coupe – despite the fact it is 230 mm
longer, 40 mm lower, rides on huge 20 inch alloy wheels with 245/40-section
tyres and features a hinged hard-top roof.
The carbon-fibre reinforced plasticbodied concept features 328-echoing large
circular LED headlights and BMW says the uninterrupted side and rear panels
allow a turbulence-free flow of air up to the tail, where the airflow is
Carbon-fibre underbody fins and front/rear bumper diffusers contribute to
aerodynamics, while Z-shaped A-pillar air-intakes are said to extract hot air
from the engine as well as produce downforce and reduce wheel housing
While exhaust and inlet modifications aim to give the 252 kW 3.2-litre inline
six-cylinder M engine even more of a “racing sound at both idle and full
throttle”, the concept’s interior features thin stainless steel, untreated
cowhides and Lycra fabric. Undoubtedly a “what the hell is that” sort of
vehicle as it goes past, I still doubt whether I would want one in my driveway!
Last week I mentioned a third race car to go into the harbour
at Monaco, which was staged for the movie Grand Prix. I asked what was the movie
race driver’s name, who played the part, and what was the car? It was when
“Pete Aron” (James Garner) dunked his Jordan-BRM.
So to this week. I have mentioned Honda, so let’s stick with them. What was
the first Honda model to be offered in two forms?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email