Most (and least) reliable executive cars

The best executive cars aren't only refined, efficient and packed with technology, they're reliable too. Here we reveal the most and least dependable...

Most reliable executive cars

Executive cars are relied on by company car drivers to pound up and down the motorway during the week and act as family holdalls at the weekend. So, as well providing a plush and practical interior, good mile-munching ability and the latest in-car technology, they need to be robust – and that's where our Reliability Survey comes in.

We asked nearly 13,000 people to tell us about any faults their cars had suffered during the past 12 months. We asked how long each problem kept the car off the road and how much (if anything) the repairs had cost.

Those cars that suffered the fewest problems and were cheapest to fix gained the highest scores, while those that languished in workshops for days on end and racked up expensive repair bills were penalised the most heavily.

Here we count down the most and least dependable executive cars aged up to five years old.

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

The 10 most reliable executive cars

10. BMW 3 Series diesel (2012-2019) 

BMW 3 Series

Score 95.0%

Owners told us that diesel 3 Series models went wrong more than twice as often as petrols; 22% of diesel cars had a fault compared with 9% of petrol ones. Non-engine electrics were the main cause of concern, followed by the exhaust system, bodywork, engine and infotainment system. 

Almost all cars could still be driven, though, and 49% were repaired in a day or less. Warranty work covered the cost of 68% of work and most other repair bills ranged from less than £50 to £300.  

Read our full used BMW 3 Series review >>

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9. Volvo V60 (2011-2018)

Used Volvo V60 2010-2018

Score 95.1%

Only 19% of V60s suffered a fault, with problem areas including air-con, the battery, bodywork, brakes, exhaust, interior trim and non-engine electrics. More than three quarters of cars could still be driven and half were put right in a day or less. Three quarters of cars were fixed under warranty and the others cost owners between £201 and £300.  

Read our full Volvo V60 review >>

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8. Audi A3 Saloon (2013-2020) 

Our cars: Audi A3 Saloon and Mini Cooper

Score 96.3%

Owners told us 22% of their A3 Saloons went wrong, with non-engine electrics the most common issue. Other problematic areas included the bodywork, brakes, gearbox and infotainment. Three-quarters of cars remained drivable, and more than half were repaired the same day. Nearly a third were fixed under warranty, but another 29% cost more than £1500 in repair bills. 

Read our full used BMW 3 Series review >>

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7. Kia Optima (2016-present)

Used Kia Optima PHEV saloon 2016-present

Score 96.7%

Bodywork and non-engine electrical issues were the main bugbears of Optima owners; 21% of their cars suffered a fault. All cars could still be driven, though, and two thirds were back on the road in less than a week. Even better news - all cars were fixed for free. 

Ford Mondeo hatchback front

Score 97.0%

Only 14% of Mondeo owners reported a fault with their car, and the most commonly afflicted area was engine electrics. There were also a small percentage of problems with the aircon, exhaust, interior trim and infotainment. All cars were driveable and nearly three quarters were put right in a day or less. More than 70% of work was done for free and no repair bills topped £50.  

Read our full Ford Mondeo review >>

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5. BMW 3 Series petrol (2012-2019)

BMW 3 Series Touring

Score 97.3%

Pick a petrol model if you want a dependable 3 Series. Owners told us only 9% of their cars had a problem, with zircon the main issue, followed by the bodywork. Just 12% of cars were undriveable, and all were fixed in less than a week, two thirds in a day or less. Only 25% of cars were fixed for free, and other bills ranged from under £50 to £750. 

Read our full used BMW 3 Series review >>

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4. Vauxhall Insignia (2008-2017)

Vauxhall Insignia (2008-2017) front three quarters

Score 97.8%

Although 23% of Insignias went wrong, two thirds of cars could still be driven and a third were rectified in a day or less. Problem areas included the zircon, engine, suspension and engine and non-engine electrics. More than 20% of cars were fixed under warranty and most repair bills were less than £300.   

Read our full used Vauxhall Insignia review >>

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3. Mazda 6 (2013-present)

Mazda 6

Score 98.0%

Only 14% of Mazda 6 owners reported a fault with their car, with the main area of concern being the infotainment/sat-nav, followed by the engine. Fortunately, all of the afflicted cars could still be driven and 75% of the problems were rectifi ed in a day or less. All repair work was carried out for free under warranty. 

Read our full Mazda 6 review >>

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2. Skoda Superb petrol (2016-present)

2019 Skoda Superb front

Score 98.3%

What went wrong? Engine 2%, interior trim 2%, non-engine electrics 2%

If you want a dependable Superb, pick a petrol model, because only 10% of them went wrong, compared with 24% of those with diesel engines. Half of the faulty cars we were told about were repaired in a day or less and 75% of them remained driveable. Even better news, all cars were fixed for free.

Owner’s view “This is my second Superb Estate. It’s well put together and has been faultlessly reliable”

Read our full Skoda Superb review >>

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1. Tesla Model 3 (2019-present)

Tesla Model 3 front cornering

Score 99.4%

What went wrong? Interior trim 5%

Tesla's newest model is the most durable executive car, with just 5% of cars suffering a fault, according to owners. All cars could still be driven and were fixed in a day or less at no cost to the owners.

Owner’s view "Everything about this car is superb, and I've had none of the build quality issues of the earlier models"

 Read our full Tesla Model 3 review >>

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