WhatCarAwards banner - desktop

In association with MotorEasy

Most (and least) reliable luxury cars

Luxury cars feature the very latest technology, which is great – unless they go wrong, at which point it can make them very expensive to fix. So, here we reveal the most and least dependable...

Most and least reliable luxury cars - Volvo S90

If you’re in the market for a luxury car, chances are that your time’s worth far more than is the case for most. As such, breakdowns can prove catastrophic to your schedule, and – regardless of whether you have to pay for the repairs – very costly.

Moreover, luxury cars tend to come with an abundance of technology, giving them more potential points of failure than cheaper models. So, how do you know which get the tech right, and which harbour nasty glitches that are ready to strike at a moment’s notice?

That’s where the annual What Car? Reliability Survey, conducted in association with MotorEasy, comes in. We asked more than 16,000 readers if their cars went wrong in 2021, and, if they did, how severe the fault was and how much they had to pay for repairs.

On the whole, luxury cars were one of the least reliable types of car you could buy, second only to luxury SUVs. However, that doesn’t tell the full story, because some models motored along without giving their owners many troubles at all, while others were a bigger financial liability than a payday loan. Here, we’ve used that data to investigate the most and least reliable luxury cars aged up to five years old.

Mercedes E-Class saloon

Reliability rating: 90.7%

The E220d diesel version of the Mercedes E-Class is our recommended model; it’s dependable as well as economical and practical. Of the examples we were told about, only 21% of diesel E Class’ went wrong over the past year, most often due to issues with the 12-volt battery, non-engine electrics or the infotainment system.

No cars broke down, and 32% were fixed on the same day that they were taken to a mechanic. Worryingly, though, 52% of owners had to wait more than a week for repairs, and 26% had to pay for work, with 5% of those being charged between £501 and £750.

Find a great cash or PCP finance deal on a Mercedes E-Class >>

Read our full Mercedes E-Class review >>

2. Volvo S90/V90 (2016-present)

Volvo S90 2021 front right tracking

Reliability rating: 92.6%

Effectively the same car underneath their saloon and estate bodies, the S90 and V90 were both impressively reliable over the past year. The infotainment system was the most problematic area, but there were also some faults with the bodywork and engine electrics, contributing to the overall fault rate of 24%.

The good news is that 84% of owners weren’t charged for repairs, and no cars broke down, making the S90 and V90 two of the more dependable luxury cars available. Volvo’s service departments struggled with some cars, though; 20% of them were stuck with mechanics for more than a week and 4% incurred bills of between £501 and £750. 

BMW 5 Series cornering front three quarters

Reliability rating 96.9%

The BMW 5 Series has been our favourite luxury car for the past four years because it’s a great performer with a superb interior. Now we can add another plus point to our list: in petrol form, it’s the most dependable luxury car available. Only 16% of the cars we were told about went wrong – a very small proportion for this class. 

Furthermore, the non-engine electrics, brakes, and the engine were the only problem areas – a very short list compared with rival luxury models. This meant that 75% of 5 Series’ could still be driven despite any faults, and they were all repaired within a week at zero cost. Only the fact that breakdowns were serious,  requiring more than a week to repair in all cases, lets the side down.

Find a great cash or PCP finance deal on a BMW 5 Series >>

Read our full BMW 5 Series review >>