We at the RRG Group were delighted to see 5 of our 7 franchise brands appear in the top 10 for Best Car Manufacturers in the Auto Express Driver Power 2019 Survey with 4 making the top 5 and another 2 finishing in 11th and 12th place.
The survey which the publication claims to be Britain’s number one for car satisfaction addresses questions such as: Do the featured manufacturers produce vehicles that generate positive reliability reports? Do they fit infotainment systems that are up to standard? Are their cars good to drive, or affordable to service?
Competition among the 30 brands featured in the survey is tough; there are mere fractions of a percentage between the first-placed manufacturer and the runner-up. But with thousands of owners from around the country reporting back to Auto Express on life with their new cars from 30 companies, such seemingly small degrees of separation can actually represent large swings of opinion.
It’s an astonishing performance from Lexus in Driver Power 2019. Not only did the brand field three models in the top 10 of our new car survey with the Lexus IS, Lexus RX and Lexus GS it also tops the brand table, with a series of deeply impressive scores. The manufacturer takes a gold, silver or bronze medal in six out of our nine categories, a result no other company comes close to.
No firm produces more reliable cars than Lexus, according to your reports, and no manufacturer designs or builds better exteriors. No company offers more neatly styled or solidly built interiors, either.
These attributes have helped Lexus to its third consecutive Driver Power brand win, and the company can seemingly do no wrong in the eyes of our readers.
Kia bags bronze in our Driver Power brand survey, generating almost universally positive owner feedback.
For starters, you say the firm builds cars with appealing interior designs, high-quality fit and finish, good driver visibility and comfortable front seats. The same is also true when it’s time to load items, with Kias featuring big boots, flexible seats, plenty of interior storage and roomy rear seats.
You’ve found your Korean cars reliable, too, with below-average reports of faults as well as a strong score for overall perceived quality. Owners tell us that their Kias are cheap to service as well, although reported fuel consumption is ever so slightly below average.
Narrowly missing out on a medal, Mazda has had an excellent Driver Power 2019, bringing in a strong set of results. Owners say their cars are well styled and built externally, and feature fast, quiet engines that are connected to smooth gearboxes.
Climb aboard and these positive impressions continue: the company designs stylish, well-made cabins, fits comfortable front seats and offers infotainment systems comprising perfectly pitched stereos, spot-on sat-navs and seamless smartphone connectivity.
Out on the road, the good news for Mazda continues, thanks to responsive brakes and steering, and the well-judged ride quality you say the firm engineers into its cars.
And when it’s time to stop for fuel or book a service, the bills are low. So is Mazda the perfect car company? Not quite; the practicality scores hold it back. Boot space and interior storage are criticised, and you feel the cars could be more child-friendly.
Skoda reaches the heights of fifth with a number of laudable category scores, and barely a black mark.
Close to last place for sat-nav is its one hiccup, and that can arguably be overcome with a decent hands-free smartphone set-up. While the brand wasn’t marked brilliantly for its cars’ ride and handling, either, and the same is true for safety features, these categories still generated above-average scores, and Skoda excels in almost every other area.
Take practicality: you say the firm’s cars offer more interior storage than those of any other brand, while Skoda boots are vast, and rear legroom generous. You also rate Skoda’s reliability, tell us its cars are well built and feel running costs are more than acceptable. It’s a similar story across Skoda’s results; these cars have great stereos and sensitive touchscreens, offer plenty of child-friendly features, and feature fast engines and smooth gearboxes. If we’re being picky, you say the front seats could be comfier.
Tenth place isn’t to be sniffed at, of course, but preventing the brand from pushing further up the rankings are disappointing marks for practicality and a below-par score in the interior category.
You say Toyota interiors lack the wow factor, while its boots aren’t that big and interior storage is limited.
Still, life with a car from the brand impresses in several areas: the best category score is running costs. It’s third here, with excellent reported fuel economy and impressively low servicing bills. Reliability is also rated strongly, and you say Toyotas feel like high-quality products.
But don’t expect your Toyota to be quick, according to our readers: 26th for acceleration indicates progress is leisurely, even if the engines are quiet and the gearboxes smooth.