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In association with MotorEasy

2022 What Car? Reliability Survey

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

2022 Reliability Survey header

Everyone is feeling the pinch right now, so unexpected car repair bills are the last thing any of us need. Buying a new or nearly new car reduces that risk, but just because it’s fresh out of the showroom doesn’t mean it won’t go wrong.

In the 2022 What Car? Reliability Survey, conducted in association with MotorEasy, 21% of the cars up to five years old had at least one issue, and although 83% of remedial work was covered by car makers or dealers, that left 17% of owners with bills, some of which topped £1500.

So, the secret to keeping motoring costs down is to select the make and model of your new or used car carefully. Pick a dependable one and you should have no nasty surprises.

That’s where our annual survey can help. We asked owners to tell us whether their cars had suffered any faults in the previous two years, asking them to categorise each issue into one of 14 areas: air conditioning, battery, bodywork, brakes, engine, engine electrics, exhaust, fuel system, gearbox/clutch, infotainment/sat-nav, interior trim, non-engine or motor electrics, steering and suspension.

To provide an accurate picture of how serious the faults were, we asked owners to tell us how long their car was off the road and how much it cost to put right. These two factors are more important than the area in which the problem occurred because together they determine how much inconvenience and expense was caused. Therefore, we use these two results to create a unique reliability rating for each model.

This year, we have data on more cars than ever, with 24,927 owners revealing their motoring experiences. Between them, they told us about 248 models from 32 brands.

Most reliable small cars 

1. Toyota Aygo (2014-2022)

Toyota Aygo front

Reliability rating 99.1%

What went wrong? Suspension 6%

Just 6% of Aygo owners reported a fault, with the only issue relating to the suspension. All afflicted cars could still be driven and took between a day and a week to put right. No owners were charged, in part thanks to the fact that Toyota offers an extra year of warranty (up to 10 years old) each time they have their car serviced at a franchised dealer.

Owner’s view “This is my fourth Aygo; all have been fault-free”

2. Honda Jazz (2015-2020)

Honda Jazz

Reliability rating 98.7%

Only 6% of Jazz owners had problems with their cars. The things that did go wrong related to the bodywork, interior trim, non-engine electrics and suspension, although none of the cars was undriveable. However, 20% of cars took more than a week to put right, and 20% of owners paid £310 to £500.

3. Volkswagen Up (2012-present)

Volkswagen Up GTi 2020 RHD front tracking

Reliability rating 98.4%

The Up is pretty dependable, with 15% of owners needing to call a dealer to fix battery, bodywork, brake or engine problems. Their cars spent a long time in the garage, though; nearly three-quarters of them took more than a week to fix. Most repairs were done for free, but 14% of bills ranged from £301 to £500.

Least reliable small cars 

1. Ford Fiesta (2017-present)

Ford Fiesta ST 2021 front

Reliability rating 80.2%

What went wrong? Suspension 13%, battery 10%, engine 10%, steering 10%, exhaust 8%, non-engine electrics 8%, engine electrics 7%, sat-nav/infotainment 6%, interior trim 6%, bodywork 4%

The current Fiesta’s fault rate was relatively high, at 31%, and many of the issues reported were serious. These put a third of the afflicted cars out of action for more than a week, and 30% of them couldn’t be driven. On the bright side, 90% of the work was completed for free and none of the bills exceeded £300.

Owner's view "My car has had problems from the first day, including water leaks in the boot and via the rear windows”

2. Volkswagen Polo (2018-present)

Volkswagen Polo front

Reliability rating 86.4%

Electrical issues were the bane of many Polo owners’ lives, with the air-con, engine/non-engine electrics and sat-nav giving trouble. A sizeable 37% of cars went wrong, and although 91% were fixed for free, a small percentage cost up to £1000. Repairs were slow, too; 45% of cars were in the garage for more than a week.

3. Toyota Yaris petrol (2011-2020)

Toyota Yaris

Reliability rating 87.0%

With a fault rate of 17%, the petrol Yaris doesn’t uphold the brand’s robust reputation for dependability. Brake and suspension issues were the main bugbears. Only 14% of work was done for free and three-quarters of owners paid out between £201 and £750. All cars were put right in less than a week, though.

Reliability of small cars aged up to five years old

Rank Make and model Score
1. Toyota Aygo (2014-2022) 99.1%
2. Honda Jazz (2015-2020) 98.7%
3. Volkswagen Up (2012-present) 98.4%
=4. Honda Jazz hybrid (2020-present) 98.2%
=4. Hyundai i10 (2014-2020) 98.2%
6. Hyundai i20 (2015-2020) 98.1%
=7. Suzuki Swift (2017-present) 98.0%
=7. Toyota Yaris hybrid (2011-2020) 98.0%
9. Mini hatchback (2014-present) 97.0%
10. Skoda Citigo petrol (2012-2020) 95.8%
11. Nissan Micra (2017-present) 95.2%
=12. Kia Rio (2017-present) 94.7%
=12. Mazda 2 (2015-present) 94.7%
14. Dacia Sandero (2013-2020) 94.5%
15. Kia Picanto (2017-present) 94.3%
16. Vauxhall Corsa (2014-2019) 94.0%
17. Vauxhall Corsa (2019-present) 93.4%
18. Volkswagen Polo (2009-2017) 93.2%
=19. Ford Fiesta (2008-2017) 93.1%
=19. Renault Clio (2013-2019) 93.1%
21. Skoda Fabia (2015-present) 92.2%
22. Seat Ibiza (2017-present) 89.3%
23. Renault Clio (2019-present) 89.2%
24. Audi A1 (2018-present) 88.2%
25. Fiat 500 (2008-present) 88.0%
26. Toyota Yaris petrol (2011-2020) 87.0%
27. Volkswagen Polo (2018-present) 86.4%
28. Ford Fiesta (2017-present) 80.2%

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