IF you’re looking for a second-hand car and reliability comes ahead of everything else in your list of requirements, then go and find yourself a nice Mitsubishi Lancer, built between 2005 and 2008.
This unspectacular model has been revealed as the most reliable car during the past 15 years in which Warranty Direct, the leading car warranty firm, have been producing their Reliability Index.
The company has studied more than 200,000 policies issued since 1997. Its index has become an industry benchmark for used car reliability and ranks more than 450 models, taking into account such factors as how often the car breaks down and how much it costs to fix.
Unsurprisingly Japanese and Far Eastern makes have dominated in recent years and populate most of the top 10. The Mitsubishi is the champion, with the Suzuki Alto third. There are two Toyotas and two Hondas in the top 10, and some surprising European interlopers with the diminutive Vauxhall Agila crashing the party at number two, the Volvo S40 at five and the Mercedes-Benz E-Class at eight.
Mitsubishi stopped building the most reliable version of the Lancer in 2008 but less than one in 10 broke down in any given 12-month period. The Agila features an average repair cost only three-quarters as costly as the Lancer but is slightly more likely to break down. Mazda’s MX-5, meanwhile, is so successful in the reliability stakes that it is the only model to appear twice in the top 20.
Supermini is the dominant category for reliability, while at the grim end of the scale, larger, more sophisticated and luxury cars, such as the Bentley Continental GT, defy their big price tags by breaking down more often or costing more to repair. The iconic Porsche 911 (996) appears among the 10 least reliable cars of the last 15 years, despite featuring the best annual incident rate of the group, because of its hefty average repair cost of £847.
Worst of the lot, however, and by a long way, is the Audi RS6. It is followed by the BMW M5, three models of Mercedes-Benz and the Audi A6 Allroad, a little gathering that does little to promote the financial wisdom of buying German prestige marques.
Warranty Direct managing director, Duncan McClure Fisher, says: “Most people looking to buy a used car hold reliability close to the top of their requirements, so the information our reliability index now holds is a vital tool for any purchaser.
“Over the years, we’ve seen countless new technologies introduced to cars. They are now more complex than ever and, while many innovations are geared towards important considerations like safety, it also means there is more and more that can go wrong.”