JD Power survey 2012 - City cars

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  • Driver satisfaction survey 2012
  • Find out what fellow drivers think
  • Don't buy before reading this
Winner Toyota iQ
1 Toyota iQ

81.8%
Overall ranking 6th
The Toyota iQ leads the city car pack by a large margin. You have to scan down almost 40 places in the overall rankings to find its nearest rival, the Volkswagen Fox.

So what does the iQ have that the others don’t? Well, premium materials and a decent amount of equipment for starters. The car also won by a country mile on styling, with owners loving its funky looks; only the Fiat 500’s interior appeal was rated more highly. However, proving that beauty is more than skin deep, iQ owners also raved about the audio system, enjoying the clarity of sound, although they did admit to finding the controls difficult to get to grips with. Owners were also thankful for the car’s efficient heating and air-con system.

Minor grumbles included a few steering and paint gripes. Space was a bigger issue; the meagre 32-litre boot (smallest in class) was a sore point, along with the small seat behind the driver.

The car’s urban handling came in for particular praise. There were reports of starting problems, but owners felt they were in good hands once at the dealership. Service advisers were described as friendly and helpful, and the waiting areas as clean and comfortable. Owners also felt confident that their cars would be returned to them in good condition, and in good time.

All of this, combined with low insurance premiums, minuscule emissions and impressive economy, means it’s no surprise that iQ owners were happiest with the cost of running their vehicle.

JD Power 20122 Volkswagen Fox
78.1%
Overall 45th=
A return to form for the Fox, which left its 2011 eighth-place ranking behind to take the runner-up spot. Practical and mechanically sound, the car was rated for its smooth engine. Water leaks and problems with the fuel cap and front doors let it down.

JD Power 20123 Toyota Aygo
76.8%
Overall 68th=
Last year’s top city car finishes a still-respectable third this year. The drive, frugality and smooth gearbox were loved, unlike easily misted windows and the tiny boot. Toyota’s slick dealer experience was well rated by Aygo owners.

JD Power 20124 Fiat 500
76.7%
Overall 71st=
The 500’s retro appeal couldn’t stop it falling two places from last year. Owners still loved its style, but electrical problems such as persistent hands-free glitches had them irked. They also disliked the high cost of service and repair.


JD Power 20125 Smart Fortwo
76.2%
Overall 82nd=
Not much has changed for the Smart. Owners liked the car’s looks, particularly its colour co-ordination. They even gave storage space the thumbs up. Navigation and hands-free problems, and excessive wind noise, took the shine off its appeal.

JD Power 20126 Hyundai i10
75.5%
Overall 91st=
A lacklustre performance dropped the i10 three places. Owners complained about engine starting, excessive fuel consumption, the exterior lighting and seatbelt problems. On the upside, they found it easy to book services.

JD Power 20127= Fiat Panda
75.3%
Overall 93rd=
The Panda continues its slide down the rankings from second place two years ago. Although owners rated it for visibility and ease of parking, they found the rest uninspiring, particularly the interior. Many disliked the pedal positioning, too.

JD Power 20127= Kia Picanto
75.3%
Overall 93rd=
Owners couldn’t fault the Picanto’s reliability, but they felt let down by its basic interior. Heating and demisting joined poor boot space and costly workshop charges on the complaints list. The dealer experience was well rated, though.

JD Power 20129 Citroën C1
74.9%
Overall 97th
The C1’s basic interior was at the core of owners’ dissatisfaction. Appeal came in for the harshest criticism, from seat coverings to audio, heating and air-con controls. Owners saved their highest praise for the car’s low fuel consumption.

JD Power 201210 Peugeot 107
73.6%
Overall 109th
Despite its shared lineage, the 107 couldn’t compete with the Aygo on trim quality. Drivers couldn’t get comfy. Seat adjustment settings, heating and rear space were criticised. Low running costs gave the 107 its only four-star rating.

JD Power 201211 Ford Ka
72.5%
Overall 114th
The Ka scored most exterior problems, including a fiddly fuel cap and water leaks. Inside wasn’t much better, with wind noise, noisy brakes and an abnormally high number of glovebox issues. Owners weren’t keen on repair charges, either.

JD Power 201212 Suzuki Alto
72.0%
Overall 115th
Owners had little praise for the Alto, pointing out the poor-quality interior trim, inadequate boot size and tight rear-seat space. Raucous brakes, noisy fan blowers that didn’t clear the windscreen, and repair costs were all panned.

JD Power 201213 Chevrolet Matiz
71.6%
Overall 116th
The Matiz scored below average in all but two categories, with front door, fuel cap, CD player, heating and ventilation, vibration, carpet and paint problems. Owners were also least happy with the condition of their cars post-workshop.

JD Power 201214 Nissan Pixo
70.8%
Overall 117th
The Pixo is the cheapest car on the market, but it seems you get what you pay for: it finished just one place off the bottom of the overall satisfaction table. Brake shudder, excessive tyre wear, strange noises and starting problems joined complaints about the 1.0-litre engine’s power when the air-con was switched on. Pixo drivers were least likely to like their car’s styling or enjoy the ride. They were also, perhaps unsurprisingly, unhappy about shelling out for maintenance.

Full results
Click on table for larger view
JD Power 2012

JD Power 2012Case study
Name James Marshall
Age 43
Lives Highgate, London
Job IT manager
Model 1.0 VVT-i
Mileage with car 12,000
‘Our main car is a Volvo XC70. We bought the iQ for short hops, although when I do take it on the motorway it drives like a bigger car.

‘I’m very happy with it. I can fit our three children in quite happily, and you forget how small it is once you’re behind the wheel. Having said that, it really comes into its own when I’m parking it.'

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