Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - Cluedo

Following on from something I said in my last post on the new 2017 BMW 5 series. I would be interested in knowing peopl's view on how they rate the engineering quality of a car and what cars they think are the best engineered.

I know this is a varied topic but for me engineering is mainly about reliability, durability and what the company focuses on when the car is designed and built.

If you take Lexus for example, they took a number of cars during the devdelopment of the LS and focused on the best quality for that car and said that the LS should better it - the coin sitting on top of the V8 for smoothness etc. demosntrated that it was well engineered and balanced. And the fact that they have their Takumi master craftsmen that focus on a specific part of the car during manufcature to ensure it is the best than it can be.

For my thinking, having now owned an Outback for 9 months I have to say that £ for £ it is the best engneerd car I have owned (even better than BMW & MB) and it is cear to me why you see websites conatining stories of people doing 400K to 500K miles in them without too much bother.

After that it has got to be Honda, Mazda and Toyota/Lexus.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - SLO76
If it wasn't for the massively overpriced manufacturer parts you'd see a lot more Subaru's with huge mileages plus the heavy depreciation they suffer would soften.

I've often thought it was a commercial mistake on the part of Subaru to have such unacceptably high parts and dealer servicing prices. Their sales are hampered as a result of short term profiteering.

I remember having to scrap a perfectly good Legacy trade in with less than 80,000 miles under its belt because of the ludicrous cost of a new catalyst which at the time was unavailable afternmarket due to the low volumes of Subaru cars on the road, a problem that still exists today regarding many of their parts.
Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - RT

Having had a Subaru Outback, they are very well engineered - but their engines seem to collect "design" faults like head gasket failures on the 2.5 and various issues with the diesels.

Value for money engineering - it's difficult to beat the previous generations of Hyundai/Kia, easy to see which other maker's models they took inspiration from.

VW have a couple of contenders - the Phaeton which was created as a vanity exercise to match the S-class and got close enough to use as a platform for Bentley to finish the job with their continental - the Touareg, which started purely as the Porsche SUV (aka Cayenne) but is excellent as a VW.

Every brand and every model seems to get horror stories and while the probability might alter a little I never get the impressions there's actually much difference between the best and the worst.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - John F

VW have a couple of contenders - the Phaeton which was created as a vanity exercise to match the S-class and got close enough to use as a platform for Bentley to finish the job with their continental .......

....and Audi for their short-lived A8 SWB W12, one of the best and most affordable super-sports saloons of its time. And of their time should really qualify the subject, which would then cover a multitude of models e.g. Royce Ghost, Model T Ford, VW Beetle etc. As for right now.......Toyota Prius?

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - RobJP

I too don't think there's much in it with a lot of brands. Take, for example, most Hondas. Bought privately and by 'older' people, they're more coddled and looked after than the average (company) BMW, Audi, Merc, etc. The privately owned Honda does lower mileage, the owner/keeper has the time - and inclination - to look after the car better.

I was in BCA Belle Vue a vfew months back, and a (late) 2013 320d went through. 290,000 miles on it in just 2 1/2 years. Notably, it had 26 services, rather than the 13-14 it would have probably had on the 'official' service regime.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - madf

Some makers just design things badly, cause life threatening issues.. and ignore them as long as possible.

See GM and Vauxhall response to well known fire issues. I would never buy a GM car.

See Ford and the use of a CVT gearbox which they KNEW would not handle the torque of the engine it was mated with. Any failures were disputed and it took legal action for owners to get redress.

I would never buy a Ford.

See Chrysler and teh well known exploding fuel tanks on Jeeps.

I would never buy a Chrysler.

There ia a pattern there..

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - gordonbennet

Where Subaru are streets ahead is that their cars are designed to be maintained not designed for easy cheap manufacture, Toyota's 4x4 were like this at one time too, designed to be fixed in the field going so far as every electrical item such as a relay having stamped on it, in English, what it was for, eg 12v Glow Plug Relay, a mechanic's dream.

I like good engineering but not necessarily having to modernise or have the latest innovations for the sake of it, if it aint broke don't fix it still applies.

All makers come up with good designs over the years, and some come up with utter piles of rubbish too, if it lasts 20 years with reasonable maintenance and without needing major refurbishment then it isn't a bad design.

Edited by gordonbennet on 29/11/2016 at 14:43

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - Steveieb
Seeing by the popularity of Subaru in Australia, the USA and parts of the Middle East, I can only conclude that the reason we see so few of the marque on our roads is down to the importer.
Our long term family dealership have called it a day to transfer to Ssang Yong of all makes, so we have lost all that specialist knowledge.
Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - groaver
Seeing by the popularity of Subaru in Australia, the USA and parts of the Middle East, I can only conclude that the reason we see so few of the marque on our roads is down to the importer.

I agree with that comment.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - SLO76
Seeing by the popularity of Subaru in Australia, the USA and parts of the Middle East, I can only conclude that the reason we see so few of the marque on our roads is down to the importer.

I agree with that comment.

Would be interesting to compare parts prices in different markets v competition compared to the UK. Might well be the importer that's profiteering, aiming for the highest profit per punter instead of going for greater market share.
Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - RT
Seeing by the popularity of Subaru in Australia, the USA and parts of the Middle East, I can only conclude that the reason we see so few of the marque on our roads is down to the importer. Our long term family dealership have called it a day to transfer to Ssang Yong of all makes, so we have lost all that specialist knowledge.

Spot on - the IM Group who import Subaru seerm to have been in a rut for ever - not helped that they want dealers to invest in "glass palaces" so have lost most of the original ones.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - gordonbennet

Glass palaces and Subaru are not natural bedfellows, i used to enjoy delivering new Scoobs years ago, the dealers would often be rural, but they were almost always the very opposite to glass palace world, which to me suited their rather individual clientele.

The sales people were the same sort of people i'd meet who managed the LandRover courtesy fleets at equine events, friendly and courteous no nonsense people in a Heart of England farm manager way if that makes any sense, any problems these people soon got the job sorted.

Maybe Subaru have gone the same was as old England, simply faded away unnoticed by enough till it was too late to do anything about it.

Edited by gordonbennet on 29/11/2016 at 17:45

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - RT

Glass palaces and Subaru are not natural bedfellows, i used to enjoy delivering new Scoobs years ago, the dealers would often be rural, but they were almost always the very opposite to glass palace world, which to me suited their rather individual clientele.

The sales people were the same sort of people i'd meet who managed the LandRover courtesy fleets at equine events, friendly and courteous no nonsense people in a Heart of England farm manager way if that makes any sense, any problems these people soon got the job sorted.

Maybe Subaru have gone the same was as old England, simply faded away unnoticed by enough till it was too late to do anything about it.

Of course - Subaru established their reputation with the Pick-up (aka Brat / Brumby) selling to farmers which lasted "for ever" and only replaced when quad-bikes became readily available.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - skidpan

Never owned a Subaru, looked at an Impreza turbo once but the quality of the fixtures, fittings and the paint was appalling (compared to the Polo I had at the time) plus servicing was about £400 a year (every 6 months or 7500 miles).

But 2 people at work bought a Subaru and both got severely stung by 2 different dealers. One only did 4000 miles a year and at every annual service they were convinced it needed new pads and discs and 4 new tyres. Talk about being easilly ripped off. The other had a rear diff failure and was told no parts were available thus car was scrap. They PX'd it there and then for another Subaru (some people never learn) but 2 weeks later their old car was for sale on the forcourt at top ££££'s. After some phone calls it turns out the car had been repaired using scrap parts so why did they not offer this way out to my colleague.

Both garages no longer sell Subaru.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - daveyK_UK

I find Toyota, Lexus and Honda make the best engineered cars

Some Sukuki, Suburu, Mazda, Ford and Hyundai/Kia models also well engineered - but not all.

Where as Nissan cars haver declined the most in terms of engineering (although part of that is down to their decision to create 'world cars' like the Micra which is trash).

Peugeot and Citroen are not well engineered, neither are Vauxhall although the latest Astra is a huge step forward.

From my experince Renault are the worst although its accepted they have improved over the past few years releasing new models, likewise Fiat have started to improve.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - Engineer Andy

I too don't think there's much in it with a lot of brands. Take, for example, most Hondas. Bought privately and by 'older' people, they're more coddled and looked after than the average (company) BMW, Audi, Merc, etc. The privately owned Honda does lower mileage, the owner/keeper has the time - and inclination - to look after the car better.

I was in BCA Belle Vue a vfew months back, and a (late) 2013 320d went through. 290,000 miles on it in just 2 1/2 years. Notably, it had 26 services, rather than the 13-14 it would have probably had on the 'official' service regime.

I don't agree - looking at the 'Good and Bad' section, many manufacturers' cars suffer from inherrant problems, in addition to ordinary 'wear and tear' failures which, as you say, are more to do with how you treat the car as an owner than its engineering quality.

The Prius, for all its faults in the driving stakes, appears to be one of the best engineered cars from a reliability/longevity pov. Quite often it is also cars that have used the mantra of KISS (keep it simple stupid) that last ages and are very relaible - a minimal amount of complex parts that have been thoroughly tested (and often over-engineered - as Lexus often has done) and not rushed out, as many European makes often do in order to be fashionable and 'the first' to offer a gizmo or feature. Quite often the Japanese and Korean makes hold back on offering features that European manaufacturers have introduced in order to properly iron out all (or nearly all) the faults.

I do remember a story (presumably true) that a group of Mercedes engineers acquired a Lexus LS to see how it was engineered/build quality compared to their 'flagship' S-Class, and was astounded how much better it was in that regard - I think they wondered how Lexus could afford to sell it cheaper than the S-Class. What such people often forget is that a well-designed product from a trusted brand sells itself, meaning costs for marketing and customer service (including warranty repairs - very costly [VAG]) are far lower.

I think that's why (not just having careful owners) the vast majority of older, 'non-classic' (i.e. not having oodles of money and time spent restoring and keeping them in good order) cars on the road are Japanese, and particularly Toyotas. There's an early 90s Carina E in my town that I often pass, and it looks almost as good as new. You do notice that lesser-engineered cars tend to die very quickly after they reach double figures in age.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - brum

All cars from rolls royce down to dacias even yugos have components cover the whole spectrum of mechanical/electrical/software/drinks tray engineering competence from "well engineered" to "poorly engineered" with hopefully mostly "adequately engineered".

The phrase "best engineered" is reserved for those enthusiatic fanboys of apple products.

"Probably the best lager in the world" he said as he fell over and threw up over the mother in laws new rug.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - Bilboman

Accusations of "over-engineering" have been hurled at such marques as Saab, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz over the years, although I find this a difficult concept to grapple with. Over-engineered as opposed to what? If the customer is happy to pay the price, what's the problem? We all know what happened to MB at the turn of the century when the bean counters took over and slashed R & D and production standards and brought out a raft of new models in a blinding rush and nearly sank the company.
I remember seeing a press release from Lancia back in the day (read out by Esther Rantzen on "That's Life" IIRC) in which a PR man for the beleaguered company complained that the Delta faced "unfair" competition from other cars as other cars were over-engineered whereas the Delta was, well, just, engineered.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - RT

Accusations of "over-engineering" have been hurled at such marques as Saab, Volvo and Mercedes-Benz over the years, although I find this a difficult concept to grapple with. Over-engineered as opposed to what? If the customer is happy to pay the price, what's the problem? We all know what happened to MB at the turn of the century when the bean counters took over and slashed R & D and production standards and brought out a raft of new models in a blinding rush and nearly sank the company.
I remember seeing a press release from Lancia back in the day (read out by Esther Rantzen on "That's Life" IIRC) in which a PR man for the beleaguered company complained that the Delta faced "unfair" competition from other cars as other cars were over-engineered whereas the Delta was, well, just, engineered.

It's a term carried over from the Victorian era when engineering calculations and limits were less well understood - they weren't quite sure so they built even more strength in.

Colin Chapman's philosophy was that cars needed to be strong enough to finish the race, no heavier than that - military aircraft are built with limited design lives because they'll soon be outclassed anyway.

For me, cars get "weaker" as they get older - a combination of wear and fatigue so any good car will seem over-engineered when it's new, because it is - or should be.

Edited by RT on 30/11/2016 at 10:05

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - kiss (keep it simple)

I would suggest a part is over-engineered when it is nowhere near worn out when the rest of the vehicle is at the end of its design life. For most cars it would be the engine, especially if it had been correctly maintained. Some cars will rust away, others suffer expensive failures in other areas rendering repair or replacement uneconomic.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - corax
Quite often it is also cars that have used the mantra of KISS (keep it simple stupid) that last ages and are very relaible - a minimal amount of complex parts that have been thoroughly tested (and often over-engineered - as Lexus often has done) and not rushed out, as many European makes often do in order to be fashionable and 'the first' to offer a gizmo or feature. Quite often the Japanese and Korean makes hold back on offering features that European manaufacturers have introduced in order to properly iron out all (or nearly all) the faults.

On the other hand the one thing that the Europeans have been good at is engineering innovation over the years. They've taken the risks to push new ideas in order to increase efficiency.

It's just that the customers are used as test pilots!

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - bazza

Proper engineering to me is about design integrity, efficiency and clarity rather than than loading up with amazing gizmos and electronic toys. The original Mazda MX5, for instance was engineered from the ground up to fulfil its purpose as a driver’s car. Minimal weight distributed perfectly front to rear, with conventional rear wheel drive for maximum balance and feedback. Free of unnecessary junk and nothing added to compromise driving pleasure. A rag top of beautiful design, simplicity itself to open or close one handed, no boot full of motors and levers to go wrong. A minimalist petrol, non- turbo engine, producing just enough power, no more, no less . No over-complicated turbos or direct injection to go wrong. The simplest engineering solution to get the job done.

By contrast, take something like a Range Rover Sport or any similar large luxury SUV. A design so over-complex, it is difficult to see the intent. The original all terrain brief now heavily compromised by the need to perform reasonably well on tarmac. Summer tyres and road calibration ruin off-roading ability. The high centre of gravity, ideal for off-road clearance, works completely against on-road dynamics, meaning that vastly complex electronics are needed as a partial fix. Said electronics further compromise the vehicle’s long term robustness. Meanwhile, to sell to it up-market client base,it is loaded with luxury goods, carpet, sound-proofing, hi-fi, leather etc, so that it now has a weight problem. To fix this, massively powerful, complex turbo-charged engines are fitted, requiring further neutering by even more electronics. And so it goes on, that’s not great engineering, impressive though it may be sat on the drive.

Another example: The electronic handbrake. A solution looking for a problem. A simple, reliable, cheap cable replaced by electronics, motors, actuators, complex rear calipers, all placed exactly in the worst possible place for such things, underneath, hidden away, directly in the salt and muck! Impressive – possibly – but good engineering?

Some examples of great engineering are found in other areas: have a look around a high end drop handlebar road bike, a master class of minimalism and dseign focus. Also something like an original Honda Fireblade, completely focused on absolute performance, no compromise and nothing fitted on it that's superfluous or detracts from the purpose of the machine.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - drd63

I haven't had any significant issues with any cars since I had a succesion of Ford Escorts as company cars in the 80's/90's. What I can see is continuous improvement in design which has made more recent cars feel increasingly robust. I experienced some trepidation when I took delivery of my current Citroen DS5 but in 3 and a half years and 95k miles absolutely nothing has gone wrong and it still feels great. Previous Ford Kuga, 105k miles 2 headlight bulbs. Succesion of Honda's, Accords, S2000 which were perfect let down by 2006 Civic - that was badly engineered - failed gearbox, leaking rear shocks, sticking fuel cap - and it felt so cheap! So a mixed bag but with the exception of the Civic the more recent the better.

Here's the thing that amazes me though - my friend and neighbour has an X5 and Boxter, he swears blind in the superiority of German engineering but has had a litany of issues - X5 - collapsed rear suspension, cracked alloys, turbo failure, broken seat and water ingress into fuse box. Boxter - problem with central locking and battery discharging.

Any - Best & Worst Engineered Cars - Andrew-T

I think that's why (not just having careful owners) the vast majority of older, 'non-classic' (i.e. not having oodles of money and time spent restoring and keeping them in good order) cars on the road are Japanese, and particularly Toyotas. There's an early 90s Carina E in my town that I often pass, and it looks almost as good as new. You do notice that lesser-engineered cars tend to die very quickly after they reach double figures in age.

Surely - apart from the small proportion which are kept for sentimental reasons and are carefully owned for years - the usual reason for cars dying after 10 years is that they have almost no residual value, so owners assume there is no point in spending any more?

 

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