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Cupra models the most unreliable used cars as Lexus takes top spot in What Car? survey

  • Car manufacturers named and shamed for their poor reliability by What Car?
  • Survey of 22,000 owners named best and worst car manufacturers
  • Cupra named the most unreliable car brand on British roads, while Lexus takes top spot
  • Owners say that hybrids are the most reliable powertrain
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Time 8:29 am, September 28, 2023

Seat’s performance brand Cupra has been named the most unreliable car manufacturer following a survey of nearly 22,000 owners.

What Car? quizzed owners of used cars about how often their cars had failed in the past two years, with responses flooding in for around 180 different models from 22 brands.

The Reliability Survey asked how long repairs took and how much they cost to come up with an overall score out of 100.


The higher the score, the more reliable the car brand – with Cupra scoring just 82.4 per cent.

The result means that the Spanish outfit has taken the title of Britain’s least reliable car brand, which was last year won by Jeep.

It comes after Volkswagen Group announced plans for Cupra to take over from Seat in the coming years.


The second most unreliable manufacturer was – perhaps unsurprisingly – Alfa Romeo which bagged a score of 85.6 per cent.

That placed it narrowly ahead of third placed Vauxhall (86.9 per cent) and fourth placed Jaguar (87.4 per cent), which were both panned by owners in the survey for regularly breaking down.

At the other end of the scale, Lexus was widely praised by owners as the most reliable make on the roads, with an impressive score of 98.3 per cent.

The luxury badge narrowly beat off competition from its stablemate, Toyota, which scored 97.4 per cent to take second.

Owners were also gushing about the likes of Mini (97.2 per cent), Suzuki (96.9 per cent), Mitsubishi (96.2 per cent) and Honda (95.9 per cent), in a top ten dominated by Japanese and Korean brands.

Elsewhere, the survey found that hybrids were the most reliable powertrain, with just 17 per cent of plug-in hybrids and 18 per cent of other hybrids suffering any faults.

Petrol models were only slightly less reliable, with a fault rate of 20 per cent, while electric cars and diesels had the joint-highest fault rate of 26 per cent.

The most reliable EV according to buyers is the Ford Mustang Mach-E, which was given a perfect score of 100 per cent by owners.

Reacting to the findings, What Car? consumer editor Claire Evans said: ‘These results demonstrate that the complexity of a hybrid powertrain is not a barrier to reliability.


‘Conversely, electric models, with their simpler set-up can let their owners down.

‘However, in many cases it’s not the electric motors or battery banks that prove troublesome, it’s other electrical items such as infotainment systems, digital instrument panels and driver assistance systems that have given owners the biggest headaches.

‘If you’re thinking of switching to a pure electric car, check its reliability rating before you buy to ensure you get a dependable model.’

Jack Williams's avatar

Jack joined the Car Dealer team in 2021 as a staff writer. He previously worked as a national newspaper journalist for BNPS Press Agency. He has provided news and motoring stories for a number of national publications including The Sun, The Times and The Daily Mirror.

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