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Motor Mouth articles 2006

A winning combination

Quality work at the UK Honda plant

THOSE who champion the merits of British carmakers tend to look at their shoes or suddenly discover a pressing household chore to do when the talk turns to car reliability.

Over the years we have grown painfully accustomed to the crowing of supporters of vehicles that have reached our shores after a long journey, usually from the Far East.

Well, things have changed. Patriots can begin to hold their heads high again because British-built now means quality, reliability and affordability.

The latest annual ‘league tables’ published jointly by What Car? and Warranty Direct may be top-heavy with Japanese names but scratch the surface and a glorious truth emerges – half the cars featuring in the top ten were built in Britain.

Eastern production standards and British workers have become a formidable combination in recent years and a very far cry from the grim days of the 1970s when our factories were synonymous with strikes, conflict, shoddy workmanship and Neanderthal work practices.

So let’s look at the latest hit parade. A total of 38,000 cars, comprising 111 models, and with an average age of 4.9 years, were surveyed and no-one will actually faint with shock to learn that Honda figured in the top two positions, with their Accord (1999-2003) and Civic (1996-2001).

The Lexus IS comes third, Nisan Micra fifth, with Volvo notching fourth place with their S40 and sixth with the V40. The rest of the top ten are the X-Type Jaguar, the Mini, Peugeot 106 and the BMW 3-Series.

Announcing their list, the organisers send congratulations to the thousands of UK workers who have built some of the most reliable cars on our roads. The Accord was built here until 2002, the Civic was also British-built, as were the Micra, the Jag and the Mini.

Even – now brace yourself – the now-defunct Rover performed well, with the 45 model finishing in 11th place and the Rover 25 two places behind it.     

But, of course, for every winner there is an embarrassed loser, and the reliability list is no exception. So go and stand in the corner, Renault: the Espace (1997-2002) is bottom of the class, with the 2000 model Laguna one place better off.

Other wearers of the dunces’ caps in the bottom ten are the Audi TT, the Jaguar XK8, the Saab 9-5, two Fiats – the Multipla and the Coupé – and, shame of shames, no fewer than three Land Rovers: two models of Freelander and the 1995-2005 Range Rover.

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