Most reliable small cars

Honda Jazz Si front tracking
Credits: Pete Gibson
24 Apr, 2014 1:35pm Steve Walker

The 2014 Driver Power survey has revealed the most reliable small cars to own. We explore the best and worst performers here.

Reliability is the single thing that colours your opinion of a car more than any other. First and foremost your car needs to consistently work, so the most reliable cars also go along way towards being the best cars to own.  This is as true of the largest SUV as it is of the smallest city car or supermini but it’s the more compact end of the spectrum we’re interested in here. 

Pinpointing the most reliable small cars on the market isn’t a simple thing for car buyers to do independently but if 50,000 car owners all club together and share their experiences, suddenly you have an extremely powerful car buying tool. That’s where the 2014 Driver Power survey comes in. The UK’s biggest car customer satisfaction survey asked motorists to rate their car’s reliability and the results from owners of small cars make very interesting reading.

The Driver Power results for the most reliable small cars are detailed below. We’ve picked out the top 10 models (from 10th to first) in the survey and further down the page you’ll find a complete list of the top 30 most reliable small cars.

Driver Power 2014: top 10 most reliable small cars

10. Citroen DS3

Driver Power reliability score: 93.9%

Used Citroen DS3

Citroen’s DS3 aims to bring a funkier feel to the supermini segment with a greater emphasis on design and personalisation options than we’ve been used to seeing from mainstream models. Happily, it’s appeal seems to be more than skin deep with the 10th best reliability score of any small car. DS3 owners were also impressed with the on-road performance of the car, praising its handling and its easy-going driving experience. The DS3 ranked 37th overall in the 2014 Driver Power survey. 

9. Mazda2 Mk II

Driver Power reliability score: 94.41%

Mazda2 front

The Mazda2 is in line for replacement by an all-new model soon but the MkII car is still winning the hearts of owners who ranked it in ninth place for reliability. The sharp-looking 2 also won praise for its driving experience but owners were less enamoured by the running costs – possibly because they’ve been enjoying the handling a little bit too much.   

8. Peugeot 107

Driver Power reliability score: 94.55%

Peugeot 107 Sport XS

Peugeot has already unveiled the 108 city car but the newcomer will be doing very well if it can eclipse the Driver Power reliability performance of its predecessor. The 107 keeps things simple with a minimalist design and sturdy build quality but feels a little dated compared to the cream of the modern city car offerings. The 1.0-litre petrol engine is a dependable and economical performer but owners criticised its performance, contributing to the car ranking in 115th place overall.   

7. Toyota Yaris MkIII

Driver Power reliability score: 94.95%

Toyota Yaris Mk3

The third generation Toyota Yaris plays its part in upholding the Japanese marque’s strong reputation for reliability with a 7th place ranking for reliability in Driver Power 2014. It might lack the flair of a Ford Fiesta and the premium gloss of a Volkswagen Polo but the Yaris is a car you can rely on according to these results. The car placed 57th overall with the performance and ride quality being the biggest gripes for owners.  

6. Nissan Juke

Driver Power reliability score: 95.61%

Nissan Juke front cornering

Nissan’s tough-looking Juke is the only crossover in the most reliable small cars list. Its small rear seats and boot contributed to a low score for practicality and owners also complained about the running costs but it’s hard to argue with a 95.6% reliability score. The Juke came in 101st place overall. 

5. Honda Jazz Mk1

Driver Power reliability score: 95.63%

Honda Jazz

The original Honda Jazz brought an MPV flavour to the supermini market with its remarkably roomy cabin and a 5th place ranking for reliability show’s it’s still going strong today. It’s reliability, practicality and ease of use that constitute the strongest suits of the Jazz but a 134th placed finish overall indicates that the car is starting to be found wanting in other areas.   

4. Skoda Citigo

Driver Power reliability score: 95.70%

Skoda Citigo Elegance 1.0 MPI GreenTech front cornering

Along with its SEAT Mii and Volkswagen Up! sister vehicles, Skoda’s Citigo is up amongst Auto Express’ best city cars. With a 95.7% score for reliability and 2nd place finish in Driver Power 2014 overall, it seems that owners are pretty fond of it too. The Citigo stays true to the city car blueprint with a simple design but the polished road manners and surprising interior space elevate it above rival models.

3. VW Up!

Driver Power reliability score: 96.08%

Volkswagen up!

Even though it’s priced higher than the Skoda Citigo and SEAT Mii that share its design, the Up! is the cheapest way into a new car with a Volkswagen badge. It’s also unflinchingly reliable according to owners who completed the Driver Power survey and scored it an impressive 96%.

2. Kia Rio MkIII

Driver Power reliability score: 96.51%

Kia Rio 1.1 CRDi 1 front cornering

The Rio is a handsome and well-rounded supermini by Kia and its 96.5% reliability score goes some way to explaining why the Korean marque feels able to offer its industry-leading 7-year warranty. The Rio’s all-round popularity is underlined by a 5th place finish in the overall 2014 Driver Power results.

1. Honda Jazz MkII

Driver Power reliability score: 98.89%

Honda Jazz 1.4 ES Plus front action

And so to our most reliable small car! The first generation Honda Jazz managed a 5th place finish for reliability but it’s the second generation car that takes the crown. There’ll be a new Honda Jazz on sale in the UK during 2015 but until then, the MkII model seems to be ably holding the fort.  It’s not the most stylish or dynamic model in the supermini class but the practicality and easy-going style of the Honda go down a storm with owners. The Jazz ranked 47th in Driver Power 2014 overall.

Driver Power 2014 top 30 most reliable small cars 

So you know the top 10 most reiable small cars according to Driver Power 2014. Now it's time to explore the list in full...

For the full results from the 2014 Driver Power survey, click here. To tell us about your car in the 2015 Driver Power survey, click here.

Disqus - noscript

LOL, The Peugeot 107 only appears in this section because of its Toyota supplied mechanics otherwise it would be in the least reliable section where the Frenchies normally sit!

Oh dear! I am afraid this comment comes into the category of "Saloon bar rubbish". There is no discernible pattern in this table either in terms of country of ownership or country of assembly.

There is absolutely no pattern if one looks behind "the badge", as one should. Of the "top ten" there are examples put together in e.g. Britain, France and the Czech Republic. The only thing we can be certain of is that none of these vehicles are assembled in Italy or Germany. However I don't think this whole exercise tells us anything of particular value. (Incidentally my own vehicle features in this "top ten" so I am not suffering from wounded amour propre)

What a rubbish survey. How can you compare a 7 or 8 year old MK1 Honda Jazz with a VW UP that has only recently come on sale. When the UP is 5 or 7 years old then that is a fair comparison. You need to compare cars of the same age and mileage.

The VW Up! I do not believe!

Funny, all the reliability studies show you are wrong. French brands stand usually in the middle of any ranking, behind japanese and in front of germans. But as it has been said here, "saloon bar rubbish" will always exist.
By the way, look at the full ranking and tell me which french car is in the bottom...

Think you need to take a look at the age of basically all the French cars that appeared in this survey - nearly all which are very new. Some high up in the survey only launched in 2013 like the Peugeot 2008. A car up to a year old should not fail!! I would refer to the post from 'marcusand ronicus' who has picked up exactly what I noticed - the big age difference of models - so the results from the likes of Peugeot do little to impress me. By the way - 'PaulHitch' talks about "saloon bar rubbish" cause he owns a French car - a DS3 to be precise! Fact is my original comment about French car reliability is spot on whether the French car fanboys like it or not!

You are spot on. This was something that quickly struck me when I read the magazine. For example a lot of the French models that appear in this survey were only launched in 2013 and as you say the Mk1 Honda Jazz features - incidently the Mk1 Jazz models in this survey could be up to 12 years old! since the Mk1 launched 2002. Seems stupid to me...

Which vehicle happens to have been absolutely reliable and has passed its first M.O.T. with no fuss, literally a couple of days ago!
However I am not making any point for any particular vehicle merely that we should ignore any rubbish about car reliability based on Francophobia or any other kind of phobia. The aptitude of a given assembly line seems far more important than where it is situated. I am no great fan of these surveys but just look at this list and see without prejudice which countries the vehicles concerned are put together in. More significant perhaps are the countries which don't feature.

Well, I think AE tends to confuse (on purpose or not) readers about this survey. This is a driver satisfaction survey, which is not exactly the same thing as reliability only. AE is always using the usual stereotypes to judge reliability (cf all the VW reviews).

How can it be spot on as you don't give any evidence? Go to check the best survey about reliability, the reliability index. Check all the serious studies about it. You will see you are absolutely wrong.

I noticed that the reliability of the Mark II Kuga was described as "particularly poor", whereas the Discovery IV, which fared worse was just described as "disappointing". Its all to be taken with a pinch of salt really.

Why don't you give evidence? What is your source exactly? Here is a evidence for you though - Go and check out where the likes of PSA and Renault sit year after year in the manufacturers league table of past AE Driver Power Surveys. They are always at the bottom end of the table - fact! French cars are famously unreliable and poorly built - it is a fact. Anyone that knows anything about cars knows it. Fanboys like yourself and Paul Hitch don't like to hear it of course.

I gave you evidence, you just need to learn how to read.... it is called "reliability index" (I can't send the link in a comment), and it is a real reliability study, not just a survey. You can check the ADAC in Germany as well.
The french brands are not at the bottom at all in those studies (and in many others). Well, I think you don't want to change your mind and see the truth, you prefer stereotypes, it is your choice. And calling people "Fanboys" doesn't make your comment more true... It is alright, you are probably the same kind of genius who presents famous tv shows vaguely about cars.

Difficult to imagine I know but I think he is rather worse!

Dear Tom, I think that's being a bit hard on Clarkson and Co., they're not quite that cloth eared (or weren't when I last watched the show years ago)!
Regards, P.H.

I suspect you need to discover what a quality car is all about my son - I notice you conveniently avoided my comment about the manufacturers league table in the Driver Power Surveys in past years! I think you are completely and utterly deluded, but if you want to spend your hard earned on French junk good luck to you, I have more discerning taste!

Wow, Thats incredible, your car passed it's first MOT with out any fuss - Is that really something to boast about? Probably is with a Citroen. My car at six years old passed without fuss but then its not French which says it all really...

Of course its not anything to boast about but it but it was just at the time you had come out with another outpouring and it was a convenient truth to mention then. I take it you have no direct personal experience of the vehicles you have been holding forth about

Keep your patronising and stupid words for your friends if you have some. I didn't avoid the survey you are talking about, it is just that there is plenty of studies showing a different result, and this one is pretty singular. And it is just a survey about satisfaction, with no evidence at all (while the reliability index and ADAC use statistics to make their figures). Your "discerning taste" is actually to look only at the badge and the "bling bling" and not at the car itself.

There are that many very good and indeed truly excellent small cars out there right now, the buyer is spoilt for choice. The Fiesta, Mazda 2 or even the Suzuki Swift would be my choice for driver appeal.
Take the Jazz for roominess or the Juke for something to stand out from the crowd. If you need reliability in a small car over 3 years old, Japanese, Korean or German. But remember, parts and servicing on Fords and Vauxhalls is usually cheap. For those on a budget, the old (original) Corsa (1993-2000) was as tough as old boots and decent to drive. The Fiesta 1995-2002 (oval grill) was decent. The Fiesta before that 1989-1995 (straight grill) was nasty and there aren't many left anyway. Avoid old small skodas as some parts were still Eastern Europe standard even if the motor was VW. Of the French cars at the cheap end, the clio mk2 or Peugeot 106 are worth a look, but others best avoided. Early Mini's looked nice but had rough engines so avoid if possible