2020 What Car? Reliability Survey

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

2020 Reliability Survey

Buying a new car ought to be a pleasure, but the ownership experience can soon turn sour if the car develops a string of faults that keep it off the road for weeks on end or aren’t covered by its warranty and end up costing you a small fortune to put right.

So it’s worth weighing up the desirability of your prospective purchase with its reliability record. If you buy a car that’s great to drive and dependable, that smile it puts on your face will stay as the years roll by. Pick one with dubious reliability and you’ll be wishing the finance deal would end sooner so you can replace it.

That’s where the annual What Car? Reliability Survey comes in. We asked almost 13,000 car owners to tell us how dependable their car had been over the previous 12 months, revealing whether it had suffered any problems and the areas in which the trouble occurred. The fault categories are air-con and cooling system, battery, bodywork, brakes, clutch/gearbox, engine, engine electrics, exhaust, fuel system, infotainment/sat-nav, interior trim, non-engine electrics, steering, suspension and other.

In addition, we asked owners to tell us how much they’d had to pay to get their car fixed and how much time it had spent in the workshop. In most cases, these two factors are more important than what actually went wrong with the car, because they determine how long you could be without your car and how much of a dent a fault could put in your wallet. So we used a combination of the answers to these questions to create a unique Reliability Rating – expressed as a percentage – for each model.

The 2020 What Car? Reliability Survey contains information on 175 models that span 31 brands. We’ve included data on cars up to five years old.

The 2021 Reliability Survey is now open - tell us about your car here

Most reliable value and small cars 

= 1. Skoda Citigo (2012-2019)

Skoda Citigo

Reliability rating 100%

What went wrong? Nothing

Skoda’s sister to the Volkswagen Up is not only slick to drive and great value but also remarkably durable in its original petrol form (it’s now electric only). Even though the earlier examples dating back to 2015 will now be out of warranty, not one owner reported a fault with their car.

Owner’s view “This car is a little gem. It has been utterly dependable over the past year”

= 1. Toyota Aygo (2014-present)

Toyota Aygo front

Reliability rating 100%

What went wrong? Nothing

Very popular among owners, the Aygo shouldn’t leave you stranded at the roadside. Not a single one of the cars we were told about suffered a problem; it’s no wonder that more than threequarters of people cited reliability as the thing they liked best about their car.

Owner’s view “It’s the most reliable car I’ve ever owned. I’ve been so impressed with it that I would consider buying another one"

3. Volkswagen Up (2012-present)

Volkswagen Up

Reliability rating 99.4%

The Up is closely related to the Citigo – and it’s almost as dependable, with just 3% of cars suffering a fault. The only area that proved troublesome was engine electrics. Although all affected cars were off the road for more than a week, all were fixed for free under warranty.

Least reliable value and small cars 

Dacia Sandero 2019 front left urban tracking

Reliability rating 85.9%

What went wrong? Bodywork 14%, engine electrics 14%, interior trim 14%, gearbox/clutch 7%, infotainment/sat-nav 7%

Owners told us that 21% of Sanderos went wrong. Two-thirds of the faulty cars took more than a day to repair, and some owners were faced with bills of up to £750.

Owner's view  "A lot of things have failed, such as the horn and power steering, and my car had starting problems until it was fixed under warranty”

=1. Suzuki Ignis (2016-present)

Suzuki Ignis 2019 front

Reliability rating 85.9%

What went wrong? Gearbox/clutch 13%, infotainment/sat-nav 13%, suspension 13%, non-engine electrics 6%, steering 6%

The Ignis isn’t as bullet-proof as other Suzuki models. A quarter of cars were afflicted by a problem and nearly half lingered in a garage for more than a week.

Owner's view  “Reliability has been very poor and servicing has been relatively expensive”

3. Kia Picanto (2017-present)

Kia Picanto front cornering - 69 plate

Reliability rating 88.3%

Although 31% of Picantos went wrong, the most common problems were minor, relating to the battery and non-engine electrical systems. A third of the affected cars took more than a week to put right, but two-thirds of work was done under warranty.

Reliability for value and small cars aged up to five years old

Rank Make and model Score
=1. Skoda Citigo 2012-on 100%
=1. Toyota Aygo 2014-on 100%
3.  Volkswagen Up 2012-on 99.4%
=4. Suzuki Swift 2017-on 99.3%
=4. Hyundai i20 2015-on 99.3%
6.  Dacia Duster 2018-on 99.1%
7. Honda Jazz 2015-on 99.0%
8. Hyundai i10 2014-2020 98.8%
9.  Toyota Yaris 2011-2020 98.7%
10. Skoda Fabia 2015-on 97.6%
11. Mini hatchback 2014-on 96.2%
12. Mazda 2 2015-on 96.0%
13. Audi A1 2010-2018 94.9%
14. Seat Ibiza 2017-on 94.8%
15. Volkswagen Polo 2018-on 94.1%
16. Ford Fiesta 2008-2017 94.0%
=17. Ford Fiesta 2017-on 92.9%
=17. Fiat 500 2008-on 92.9%
19. Vauxhall Corsa 2014-2019 90.3%
20. Kia Picanto 2017-on 88.3%
=21. Dacia Sandero 2013-on 85.9%
=21. Suzuki Ignis 2016-on 85.9%

Next: Most and least reliable family cars >

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