Top 10: Least reliable cars

Of the 10,000 owner responses we received for the Honest John Satisfaction Index 2020, this is the true hall of shame – the specific models that have left their owners most dissatisfied. Some of them will be no surprise, but some definitely will. Three premium brands make an appearance. Oh, and there’s not an Alfa Romeo in sight.

We asked owners to assess their vehicle out of 10 across a range of important areas, including comfort, practicality and ownership costs, but the following results relate strictly to how reliable their car has proven. Read on to see which cars have been problematic for owners…

>>> See the best and worst performers in the Honest John Satisfaction Index 2020


Citroen C3 Picasso (2009 - 2017)

Reliability average score: 8.14

To perpetuate that stereotype about French cars and reliability, the worst performing model in the Honest John Satisfaction Index 2020 is a Citroen. The 2009 model C3 Picasso is no longer on sale, effectively replaced by the C3 Aircross small crossover in 2017, but used buyers beware: the small Picasso is beset with electrical and mechanical issues.

Read the Citroen C3 Picasso review


Vauxhall Meriva (2010 - 2017)

Reliability average score: 8.25

If you are in the market for a practical and affordable used family car then the Vauxhall Meriva (built from 2010 to 2017) will tick a lot of boxes. It's easy to drive, spacious and pretty decent to drive. However, when it comes to all-important reliability, the Merivia is less impressive. In fact, with an average rating of 8.25, it's the second worst modern car for reliability in the entire Honest John Satisfaction Index. 

Read the Vauxhall Meriva review


BMW X3 (2010 - 2018)

Reliability average score: 8.29

The worst place for a ‘premium’ manufacturer goes to BMW, with the last generation X3 giving owners a real reliability headache – coupled with repair costs that many have found hard to swallow. Bear that in mind when considering buying a used X3, particularly a high mileage example.

Read the BMW X3 review


Tesla Model S (2014 -) 

Reliability average score: 8.30

Fast, fun and stylish, the Tesla Model S is everything a modern electric car should be, right? Well almost. Owners are full of praise for the Model S' performance and high tech cabin, but the Tesla is marked down heavily when it comes to all-important build quality and reliability. 

Read the Tesla Model S review


Vauxhall Astra (2009 - 2015)

Reliability average score: 8.33

Think Vauxhall Astra and you probably think of an honest, workaday hatchback with reasonable running costs and good reliability. Sadly the 2009 model is troubled by a range of issues, mechanical and electrical. And to make it worse, owners report being highly dissatisfied with repair costs – in that respect it has the lowest score of all the cars on this list. 

Read the Vauxhall Astra review


Volkswagen Golf GTI (2013 - 2020)

Reliability average score: 8.36

The Golf GTI might enjoy a reputation for premium quality, but it’s the only hot hatch that makes this top 10. The improvement in perceived quality from Golf VI to Golf VII was dramatic, but that’s not translating into a reliability bump. In mitigation, owners at least are finding repair costs reasonable. The GTI also scores 10 out of 10 for performance. 

Read the Volkswagen Golf GTI review


Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate (2014 -)

Reliability average score: 8.52

Firstly, our survey shows that C-Class owners are genuinely quite perplexed about high repair costs, although that comes with the ‘premium’ experience. What they wouldn’t expect is poor reliability in the first place – the C-Class scores the same average reliability score from owners as the significantly cheaper Nissan Qashqai.   

Read the Mercedes-Benz C-Class Estate review


Nissan Qashqai (2014 -)

Reliability average score: 8.52

An absolute sales smash, the Qashqai is the car that arguably kicked off the UK's love of crossover cars. Sadly reliability appears to be something of an issue with below average scores for the Qashqai. However, the MoT files show that the second generation 2014 model is actually performing quite well when it comes to the annual test, although owners report disappointing cabin quality.

Read the Nissan Qashqai review


Range Rover Evoque (2011 - 2019)

Reliability average score: 8.55

The Evoque may have opened up Range Rover ownership to the masses, but for lots of owners it is proving far from a premium experience. While generally satisfied with the last generation Evoque’s comfort and cabin quality, various reliability faults and the high cost of correcting them is problematic.  

Read the Range Rover Evoque review


Ford Fiesta (2017 -)

Reliability average score: 8.57

A worrying entry for Ford, with the latest Fiesta proving less than wholly reliable for early adopters. In fairness to Ford, the Fiesta is the UK's best-selling car and the Satisfaction Index shows that owners are happy with most aspects of the small hatch. Also repair costs are reported reasonable and later builds are improving.

Read the Ford Fiesta review