Skoda drivers have last laugh as brand tops reliability survey


Only bad comedians make jokes about Skodas these days, as the 2015 JD Power dependability study proves

WHY do Skodas have a heated rear window? Well, it certainly isn’t to keep your hands warm when you’re pushing them, because the Czech firm’s cars are the most reliable on the road.

That’s the conclusion of a new dependability survey based on a poll of 13,451 UK motorists who bought a new car between April 2012 and March 2014.

Korean firm Kia took the runner-up spot, while at the other end of the 26-strong manufacturer table, Chevrolet’s cars were rated least reliable by their owners.

However, perhaps the biggest surprise was the number of prestige brands that performed poorly, with BMW, Jaguar and Audi all in the bottom five.

One theory is that because people are paying more for these cars they’re less forgiving of faults. But that didn’t stop Mercedes-Benz from finishing in the top five.

Having examined the data closely, research expert JD Power, who is behind the survey, believes faults with the cutting-edge entertainment technology some premium brands are fitting to their cars is to blame.

Dr Axel Sprenger, senior director of European automotive operations at JD Power, said: “Five of the top 11 problems reported were related to technology in this category. As we’ve seen in studies in the United States and other markets, owners expectations of advanced technology capabilities are growing. And when they have a problem they are disappointed.”

JD Power believes this could explain why Skoda is rated so much higher than its more expensive sister brands Audi and Volkswagen, which get technology earlier, possibly before all the bugs have been worked out.

The JD Power dependability study ranks manufacturers based on the number of problems experienced per 100 vehicles (PP100) in the last 12 months, with a lower score reflecting greater reliability.

Skoda has a PP100 rating of 77 and Kia 83, whereas Chevrolet’s is 288.

In addition to looking at the average rating across a manufacturer’s range, JD Power has named the most reliable cars in six categories.

The Suzuki Alto is best city car, the Nissan Juke best small car and the Kia Cee’d best compact car. Meanwhile, Honda’s Jazz is best small MPV, Mercedes-Benz’s C-class best mid-sized car and the same brand’s E-class best large car.

While Skoda didn’t top any of the individual categories, every one of its models performed above the segment average.

A full list of models and their rankings will be released by JD Power on August 12.