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2022 What Car? Reliability Survey: executive cars

Our exhaustive annual survey rates the dependability of cars aged up to five years old, based on the experiences of nearly 25,000 owners...

Lexus IS

Most reliable executive cars

1. Lexus IS (2013-2020)

Reliability rating 98.3%

What went wrong? Battery 5%

An unusual choice in the once diesel-dominated executive sector, the hybrid-only IS is a great option if dependability is high on your list of priorities. Only 5% of cars went wrong and the only area involved was the battery. All cars were put right in a day or less, and although none of the work was free, bills were reasonable, ranging from £101 to £200.

Owner’s view "I bought my IS for its reliability; I’ve not been disappointed"

=2. Audi A3 Saloon (2013-2020)

Our cars: Audi A3 Saloon and Mini Cooper

Reliability rating 98.0%

Although 12% of A3 owners told us that their cars had gone wrong (mainly in the areas of sat-nav/infotainment and suspension), not one of them was charged for the remedial work. All affected cars could still be driven and half of them were fixed within a day, but the remainder took more than a week to fix.

=2. BMW 3 Series petrol (2012-2019)

BMW 3 Series 330e review - verdict

Reliability rating 98.0%

Petrol versions of the previous 3 Series are more dependable than diesels, with only 7% of them going wrong (versus 22% of diesels). They cost less to maintain, too, with repairs carried out for free in all cases, compared with only 47% of diesels. The most common issues related to the exhaust and non-engine electrics.

Least reliable executive cars

1. BMW 3 Series diesel (2019-present)

BMW 3 Series front three quarters

Reliability rating 81.2%

What went wrong? Sat-nav/infotainment 12%, exhaust 9%, bodywork 6%, battery 3%, brakes 3%, engine electrics 3%, non-engine electrics 3%, steering 3%

Diesel versions of the current 3 Series are relatively problem-prone, with 33% of owners surveyed saying their cars had suffered a fault, compared with 14% of petrols. Just under half (47%) were fixed in less than a day, but a third took more than a week to put right. Only 67% of repairs were free, and the remainder of the bills exceeded £1500.

Owner’s view “There were so many issues with electrics, infotainment and safety systems that I had to return my car”

2. Alfa Romeo Giulia (2016-present)

Alfa Romeo Giulia Quadrifoglio 2020 front cornering

Reliability rating 82.5%

Engine, battery and non-engine electrics were the most common fault areas among the 31% of Giulias that went wrong. Although 48% of cars were repaired for free, 16% of bills exceeded £1500. Three-quarters of cars were could still be driven and 40% were fixed within a day, but a third took more than a week to repair.

3. Jaguar XE diesel (2015-present)

LT Jaguar XE nose

Reliability rating 85.3%

Diesel XEs are almost twice as liable to go wrong as petrols, with a fault rate of 37% (compared with 19% for petrols). The engine was the biggest concern, accounting for 13% of faults. Although 78% of repairs were free, some bills cost up to £750 and 26% of cars were out of action for more than a week.

Reliability of executive cars aged up to five years old

Rank Make and model Score
1. Lexus IS (2013-2020) 98.3%
=2. Audi A3 Saloon (2013-2020) 98.0%
=2. BMW 3 Series petrol (2012-2019) 98.0%
4. Skoda Superb petrol (2015-present) 97.2%
5. Volkswagen Passat (2015-present) 96.4%
6. Kia Optima (2016-present) 96.1%
7. BMW 3 Series petrol (2019-present) 95.9%
8. Jaguar XE petrol (2015-present) 95.3%
9. BMW 3 Series 330e hybrid (2020-present) 94.9%
=10. Mazda 6 diesel (2013-present) 94.4%
=10. Volvo S60/Volvo V60 (2010-2018) 94.4%
=12. Ford Mondeo (2014-2021) 93.9%
=12. Volvo S60/Volvo V60 (2018-present) 93.9%
14. Audi A4 petrol (2015-present) 93.4%
15. Mazda 6 petrol (2013-present) 92.9%
16. Skoda Superb diesel (2015-present) 92.7%
=17. Kia Stinger (2017-present) 91.2%
=17. Mercedes C-Class petrol (2014-2021) 91.2%
=17. Volkswagen Passat GTE hybrid (2015-present) 91.2%
20. Audi A4 diesel (2015-present) 90.4%
21. Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport (2017-2022) 89.3%
22. BMW 3 Series diesel (2012-2019) 87.0%
23. Mercedes C-Class diesel (2014-2021) 86.5%
24. Jaguar XE diesel (2015-present) 85.3%
25. Alfa Romeo Giulia (2016-present) 82.5%
26. BMW 3 Series diesel (2019-present) 81.2%