‘Driver Power’ survey reinforces Japanese repute with Italian surprise


Japanese car makers have dominated the annual Driver Power brand results, states Iain Robertson, claiming six of the top 10 spots in the UK’s biggest survey of new-car brands, although one Italian marque seemed determined to upset the apple-cart.

No business wants to suffer the indignity of costly vehicle breakdowns but, apart from personal experience, when making a choice of which makes and models to run, do you rely on the honesty of the brand salesman, or can you consider other sources of information? National weekly car magazine, Auto Express, believes that it has the definitive opportunity: its 100,000-weekly circulation, of which around 15-20% are respondents to its annual Driver Power survey.

Naturally, as with any public opinion response, you need to discern between respondents with an axe to grind and those seeking something for nothing. To be fair to the magazine, it collates the results and past results have demonstrated that its readers give fair and consistent assessments. However, the actual numbers breakdown can fault the conclusions.

While the Toyota Prius clinched a victory last week, as the best new car on sale today, the further-reaching Driver Power 2019 Brand Survey reveals that Lexus is the most highly regarded manufacturer, according to its readers. In fact, owners state categorically that Lexus models offer peerless reliability, unbeatable build quality and stunning styling…all subjective, of course, but interesting all the same. Chat with a Lexus owner and most of those positives will be mirrored.

Coming top of the interior and comfort, exterior and reliability categories, Lexus has repeated its 2017 and 2018 Driver Power brand triumphs, securing victory in the 2019 manufacturer survey, with an overall satisfaction rating of 92.06%. However, Alfa Romeo’s second place in the reckoning, with an overall score of 92.04%, supplemented by wins in the engine and gearbox, and ride and handling categories, while sure to be of great relief to Alfa Romeo, a company that is not really ‘in the ascendant’, does appear to buck a common belief that Italian cars may be great to look at but not so great to live with.

The march of the Koreans has placed Kia in a fine third-place overall, which reflects the hugely impressive scores that owners gave the brand for its servicing costs, reliability, infotainment systems and practicality credentials. Highly praised, these aspects contributed to a satisfaction score of 91.54% for the Korean player. In my personal experience of the entire range of both Kia and Hyundai cars, I am unsurprised, as they are truly excellent.

However, away from the top three Driver Power brand champions, Japanese companies held the majority of positions in the Top 10 this year, with Mazda, Subaru, Honda, Suzuki and Toyota all gaining a place in the top third of the survey of 30 manufacturers. While German brands were noticeable by their absence in the Top 10, the VW Group’s Czech-based Skoda clinched an unsurprising fifth place. Quite why that situation should exist, when most Skoda product is just a slightly lower-priced, restyled and rebadged version of the equivalent Volkswagen is fascinating. Intriguingly, British brand Jaguar came ninth, which contrasts with its faltering quality issues reported in other surveys.

Naturally, Ewan Shepherd, director of Lexus, told Business Money: “This is our third consecutive best manufacturer title in the Driver Power survey. At Lexus we are always striving to do better and are thrilled that, yet again, British business and private motorists have recognised and appreciated what we have to offer. It’s 30 years since the Lexus brand was born and it’s always been our aim not just to deliver the best customer service, but also to redefine what great service means to today’s customers. It’s this core commitment to excellence, a line-up of great

new products and the hard work and dedication of everyone who works for Lexus, especially our retail and trade partners, that has helped us once again to claim the top spot in the Driver Power manufacturer rankings.

Both Lexus and parent company Toyota have earned an indefatigable reputation for their overall dependability, a characteristic that is placed very highly in the hearts and minds of their owners. However, the Top Ten list highlights that broader customer satisfaction levels are on a genuine high at the moment. You can read all about it in this week’s Auto Express.

Brand/position                               Satisfaction rating

1st         Lexus                                           92.06%

2nd        Alfa Romeo                                   92.04%

3rd         Kia                                                91.54%

4th         Mazda                                          91.51%

5th         Skoda                                           91.36%

6th         Subaru                                         91.09%

7th         Honda                                          90.97%

8th         Suzuki                                          90.75%

9th         Jaguar                                          90.72%

10th       Toyota                                          90.54%