Following on from our list of the UK’s best new cars in 2022, we now reveal which manufacturers have impressed you the most over the past year.
We’ve updated the Driver Power survey with new sections on technology and value for money, plus a percentage score for the number of owners who have had a breakdown in their car in the first year of ownership. This data has then been carefully analyzed to give you a true and fair view of real owners’ experiences and what they really think of the brands operating in the UK car market.
The results represent crucial information you should have before going to showrooms or shortlisting cars. Our results show that brands fall into clear categories, with some excelling at making cars fun to drive, while others excel at practicality, low cost of ownership or reliability.
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Some perform well in most areas but are let down by slow engines or poor infotainment systems. Others offer kid-friendly interiors with plenty of safety equipment, as long as you don’t mind more conservative styling.
Read on for Driver Power 2021 manufacturer results to see which manufacturer is best for you…
Porsche finished at the top of our survey, for the second year in a row. It’s a very impressive achievement, as the brand’s premium range of sports and luxury cars beats all rivals by winning four of our categories.
The German manufacturer came first in every single driving and handling category in our survey, including handling and driving pleasure, which means owners really love driving. Owners were also impressed with the Porsche design and build quality – although reliability appears to be on the line, with 29.6% of owners reporting a fault, up from less than 15% last year.
Elsewhere, the brand was highly regarded for its practicality and scored highly on the boot space and versatility of the seats. Respondents also told us that Porsche’s running costs aren’t terrible, with better-than-expected fuel economy (but expensive maintenance costs), while the brand’s slick infotainment systems are excellent too.
The American electric car manufacturer Tesla is swapping places with Kia this year. You tell us that Tesla offers the best powertrains of all automakers, with the brand at the top of the acceleration category. Owners praised the low running costs of their cars, as well as the usability.
You also like Tesla’s safety features, with driver aids like the brand’s ‘Autopilot’ system proving popular. Owners also tell us that these systems are easy to operate and can be quickly activated and deactivated, making them easy to live in. Build quality and reliability, however, is a worrying spot on the report card; 44% of owners reported a failure in the first year of ownership. Tesla owners are also unimpressed by the rather blank styling of their cars.
Kia once again finished on the podium in our survey with a strong set of results across the board; namely a top 10 finish in every category. Owners gave high scores for the reliability and build quality of their Kias, indicating that reported defects on one in five of the brand’s cars were very minor and/or resolved quickly.
Owners were very impressed with the quality of the materials and the value for money for the cost of their cars. Elsewhere, they told us that Kia’s cars are well styled inside and out, with responsive steering, excellent brakes and a refined ride quality. Practicality was also highly prized, with large boots, plenty of interior storage and versatile seats all impressing.
Infotainment scores were also very strong, with good smartphone connectivity. You also told us that the systems are very easy to use, while the high quality of the navigation and audio systems was also praised. This result is not surprising when six of the brand’s models are in the top 20 of our main Driver Power list.
Peugeot rises to one of the top positions this year, doing a lot of good and looking to impress owners. The brand’s lion’s claw lighting and LED teeth clearly attract customers, as the exterior styling was one of Peugeot’s top-ranked areas. There’s substance to support the style, with equally high ratings for the ride/handling and the engines.
The French carmaker also achieved top 10 finishes for running costs, reliability and for its interior, which tends to look more theatrical than many rivals. While the tech and infotainment systems have been praised, owners would like the features to be more user-friendly (the climate control seems to be a particular issue). About 17.5% of owners reported failures in the first year.
Honda is known for its hybrid models, and with only 15.3% of owners reporting a fault, the build quality has been highly praised, with owners saying their cars are also very reliable. The scores for the Japanese manufacturer were fairly consistent across the board, with practicality being the highlight thanks to excellent boot space, interior storage and flexible seating.
The Japanese brand received the highest score for rear legroom and owners were positive about the interior styling. Fuel economy was also highly rated, along with affordable maintenance costs. Other areas you found impressive were the steering and brakes, which got good scores, and the air conditioning and heating systems. Owners also like the stereo systems and smartphone connectivity, but the infotainment could certainly be rated better. Honda’s latest system is a major upgrade over its previous aftermarket units, so this mediocre score could well be rolled back next year.
Jaguar is in sixth place, which is a huge achievement to finish ahead of more expensive German rivals, including Audi, BMW and Mercedes. The strongest area according to Jag owners is the way they drive, with high ratings for handling, handling and driving pleasure.
You also praised the touchscreens in your Jaguars, while the safety features are impressive and easy to operate. But the value for money is said to be poor, and the cars remain expensive to drive once you buy into the brand. That’s when the cars work; over 40% of owners reported errors, which is just not acceptable.
Mazda has continued its top 10 ranking with a decent range of scores across the board for 2022. You told us your Mazdas are very well built, even though one in four owners reported problems. You also love the styling of the brand and the quality of the materials used inside and out.
Owners were very impressed with their cars’ handling, driving pleasure, road holding and brakes all scored highly. Ride quality and steering response were also highly commended. Mazdas are also great value for money and the infotainment systems scored highly. Overall, Mazda received the highest ratings for its smartphone connectivity and easy-to-use controls. Running costs are reasonable, with affordable insurance costs and decent fuel economy. The only black mark is for usability; you want more trunk space and extra kid-friendly features.
Volvo delivered strong results in our study with very comfortable front seats, plenty of space for rear passengers, high-quality interior design and strong build quality inside and out. According to our respondents, no other car manufacturer offers more storage compartments in the interior, and the luggage compartment was also widely praised.
The brand’s safety technology was also well received, with high praise for the wide range of standard safety features that are easy to use. You told us that the brand’s infotainment systems are great, but could be easier to use, and the stereo systems are excellent. Owners reported that maintenance costs are expensive and daily running costs can be high due to low fuel consumption. Reliability was rated only moderate, which is no surprise when more than a quarter of owners reported an error.
MINI has left parent brand BMW behind and moved up 10 places in our 2022 survey, and we expect bosses to be happy with this result. The automaker didn’t have excellent scores in any particular category, but rather a collection of roughly average results. While that’s not exactly a cause for celebration, it does suggest that most owners are quite happy with their MINIs.
Exterior design, safety features, infotainment and reliability were all rated well, with ride and handling, plus the interior not far behind. Driving pleasure – an important feature of the brand – is recognized by owners, although you say that the gearboxes could be smoother. The go-kart feel seems to take precedence over fuel efficiency, but you want lower running and maintenance costs.
While not traditionally known for exemplary reliability, only 11.6% of MINI owners reported problems with their cars — one of the lowest rates of any brand in our survey.
Toyota completes the top 10 with a nice run of scores and positive owner praise. According to you, Toyotas are well built and one of the most reliable brands in our survey, with only 16.2% of owners reporting a defect in their car.
The Japanese carmaker also achieved an excellent score in the engine and gearbox category, with remarkably good marks for smoothness, acceleration and engine noise. You told us that your Toyotas are more fuel efficient than any other automaker here. Elsewhere, low running costs, including maintenance and insurance, were also impressive, and the infotainment systems scored solidly thanks to an excellent balance of touchscreen and physical controls.
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