2020 What Car? Reliability Survey: luxury cars

In our exhaustive annual survey, we reveal how dependable cars up to five years old are, based on the experiences of 13,000 owners...

BMW 5 Series

Most reliable luxury cars

1. BMW 5 Series (2010-2017)

Reliability rating 96.7%

What went wrong? Exhaust 10%, infotainment/sat-nav 3%

The previous 5 Series appears to be slightly more robust than the latest version, with owners telling us that 17% had a fault. More than three-quarters of those cars remained driveable and half were repaired in a day or less. All work was done for free.

Owner’s view “My car has excellent build quality and the service from the BMW main dealer is good”

2. Mercedes E-Class (2009-2016)

Mercedes-Benz E-Class saloon (2009-2016)

Reliability rating 96.1%

Only 14% of E-Class owners told us their car had gone wrong, and the only problem areas they cited were the exhaust and steering. Half of the faulty cars couldn’t be driven and took more than a week to put right, but all repairs were carried out under warranty.

3. BMW 5 Series (2017-present)

BMW 5 Series

Reliability rating 95.2%

According to owners, 17% of the latest 5 Series models had a problem. The most frequently cited related to bodywork, followed by the engine and its electrical systems. There were also non-engine electrical issues including problems with the air-con, infotainment system and sat-nav. More than three-quarters of the cars could be driven and all work was done for free.

Least reliable luxury cars

1. Audi A6 (2011-2018)

Used Audi A6 Avant

Reliability rating 70.6%

What went wrong? Battery 14%, bodywork 9%, engine 6%, engine electrics 6%, fuel system 6%, non-engine electrics 6%, brakes 3%, exhaust 3%, gearbox/clutch 3%, infotainment/sat-nav 3%

Audi A6 owners told us that nearly a quarter (23%) of their cars had gone wrong. More than half of those cars couldn’t be driven and took more than a week to fix, and although 40% of them were fixed for free, some owners faced bills of more than £1500.

Owner’s view “Pretty much everything has gone wrong. The sat-nav is useless, the gearbox is very jerky and the car has broken down many times and left me stranded”

2. Jaguar XJ (2010-present)

Jaguar XJ front - bright blue

Reliability rating 86.6%

A disappointing 43% of XJs had a fault, according to owners, with the battery and infotainment systems being the most problematic. Other troubles centred on the bodywork, engine, interior trim, non-engine electrics and suspension. However, the XJ ranks higher than the A6 because 60% of the afflicted cars could still be driven, 44% were fixed in a day or less and all work was done for free.

3. Volvo S90/V90 (2016-present)

Volvo S90 D4 saloon front

Reliability rating 90.7%

Electrical issues were rife on the V90 and S90, accounting for nearly a quarter of all faults on the 30% of cars that went wrong. Other problem areas included the bodywork, brakes, engine and fuel system. Half of the faults were rectified in a day or less and all the affected cars remained driveable. Nine out of 10 problems were sorted out under warranty and no repair bills topped £500.

The 2021 What Car? Reliability Survey is open; tell us about your car

Results for luxury cars aged up to five years old

Rank Make and model Score
1.  BMW 5 Series 2010-2018 96.7%
2. Mercedes E-Class 2009-2016 96.1%
3. BMW 5 Series 2017-on 95.2%
4. Mercedes E-Class 2016-on  93.7%
5. Jaguar XF 2015-on 92.0%
6. Volvo S90/V90 2016-on 90.7%
7. Jaguar XJ 2010-on 86.6%
8. Audi A6 2011-2018 70.6%