Why do some motoring journalists continue to describe cars as unreliable when more recent models have improved?

I wonder about the way in which motoring correspondents talk about the reliability of one make of car or another. I imagine there are statistics with a certain degree of reliability, but it does seem to me that a past record of reliability or unreliability is often applied to current models when, in fact, things have changed for the better or the worse.

For example, 'Which Car?' is still warning people about the unreliability of Alfa Romeos, even when talking about recent models. We know that the Alfa 156 (in many ways an excellent car) did have reliability problems. However, in the last eight years I have owned an Alfa 147, a GT and a Mito. These were all absolutely reliable, and not one of them let me down or even needed a garage visit between services or oil changes (which I always have at 6,000 miles on my cars).

I have recently bought a new Giulietta 170bhp Petrol Turbo. The steering/handling/ride seem to me really excellent, the engine a fine unit, and finish and build quality very good also. I have owned more than fifty cars in my time, so I can make some informed comparisons. If it proves to be as reliable as the above models. it will equal the best of the opposition. During my Alfa ownership, several of my friends have had rather worse reliability experiences with BMWs, Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagens. I do not include you in this enquiry - I think your opinions are indeed 'honest'. But could it be that some correspondents have long-standing biases or, dare we suggest, are not entirely neutral in their judgements?

Asked on 13 November 2010 by JS, Padstow

Answered by Honest John
I think you hit the nail on the head there. The biggest advertising budgets are spent in perpetuating myths. Far be it for humble motoring journalists (who lack the huge feedback I get) to dispel these myths and bite the hands that feed them.
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