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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Lexus on top again

Lexus SUV.

This is the second consecutive year that Lexus has led the J.D Power Initial Quality Survey, which measures customer impressions of quality after 90 days of ownership and is based on the results of a 228 item questionnaire survey filled out by 74,000 US car owners.

Lexus scored an industry leading 73 on a scale of problems per 100 vehicles, while Jaguar and Porsche tied for second on 75. The industry average this year was 102 problems per 100 vehicles, an improvement from 107 last year.

Jaguar was the big improver, second place from 20th last year. Overall 26 of the 34 brands in the survey improved their score over last year, five declined, one was steady and two brands entered the 2012 survey for the first time.

So Lexus was top of the heap, who was on the bottom? Fiat and Smart tied for last place. Each had roughly double the number of faults reported by Lexus owners. MINI was third last, while Volkswagen, Dodge and Mitsubishi also recorded near the bottom of the table results.

Significantly, it was not so much mechanical faults this year, but problems with audio, entertainment and navigation systems. Since 2006 there has been a 45 percent increase in related issues, running counter to a 24 percent improvement elsewhere in the survey..
The number of owner-reported problems with factory-installed hands-free communication devices has increased by 137 percent during the past four years. Hands-free devices not recognizing commands is now the most-often-reported problem.

Ford, in particular, has suffered a slide down the quality ratings as a result of problems with its MyFord technology. This has resulted in its going from 5th place in 2010 to 27th place this year. However, with individual models Ford did well with the Taurus (large car), Mustang (mid-size sporty car) and Expedition (large crossover/SUV)..
Lexus won with its RX SUV (mid-size premium crossover class), ES350 (entry premium) and LS (large premium).

Since I cannot get my home computer to work faultlessly, I pity the auto manufacturers trying to get the on-board computing/electronics to be bulletproof..

British GP Silverstone tonight

Silverstone for the British GP.

The British Grand Prix will be held this weekend at the ancestral home of F1, with the first ever F1 GP held there in 1950 (and won by Dr Farina in the Alfa Romeo).

This is a circuit that the drivers universally like, a circuit that allows cars to pass each other (even without the DRS), and a Grand Prix where it is likely to rain at some point. After all, it is in England, and they cannot possible go three days on the trot without a good drenching from above!

The new “arena” part of the circuit used last year for the first time goes from Abbey to Brooklands corners, moving the infield and adding an extra 760m to the track length. You will be heartened to read that Herr Tilke was not involved. Interestingly, this modification was actually built for the MotoGP series, but now incorporated in the F1 series after Bernie, the patron saint of King Midas Enterprises, gave it his blessing. Yes, that is the same Bernie who has masterminded such yawnfest circuits as Bahrain and Singapore. But don’t start me.

Hamilton will be trying for the win (or at least trying to avoid being skewered by Maldonado), team mate Jenson Button will be desperate to win another and shove it up his team mate, Boy Vunder Vettel wants to raise the magic finger again and Mark Webber will try to repeat his result from Valencia, but actually qualify well and get on the podium, while Alonso the Savvy Spaniard will complain about something, and then try a scoop up another win! Felipe Massa, who must be on borrowed time, will complain that his car feels different every time he drives it, while Narain Kathikeyan will be tail-end Charlie as usual.
The race is on at 7 p.m. Sunday July 8.