Reliability is the most important factor for car buyers today, according to our 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey results. Before they consider anything else, people want to know that they’ll be able to rely on the vehicle to run without faults or breakdowns. It’s the same for large SUVs and luxury saloons as it is for city cars and superminis but it’s the more affordable end of the car market that we are interested in here as we explore the most reliable small cars on sale.
Narrowing down what makes small cars reliable can be a little tricky when you’re on your own, but when 50,000 voices come together, it makes for some seriously compelling results. 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.
Looking specifically at what we defined as the supermini class of car in the 2016 Driver Power survey, we’ve stated in detail the top 10 models (from 10th to first). Further down the page, you’ll find a complete list of the top 30 most reliable small cars on sale.
Driver Power reliability score: 95.59 (33rd)
A strong finish of 33rd out of the overall top 150 cars surveyed in 2016 sees the MG3 make this top 10 most reliable small cars list. That result is good news for a brand that is finding its feet again in the UK and proves that MG owners still love their cars. It trails on performance – probably down to the sole 1.5-litre engine – but otherwise, the MG3 has no particularly bad scores.
Driver Power reliability score: 95.59% (32nd)
For the Toyota Aygo, it wasn’t exactly a stellar performance in the Driver Power 2016 survey. Reliability was one of its best scores, as it came 32nd out of the top 150 cars surveyed. Along with an excellent score for running costs, that makes for great reading if you’re in the market for a dependable small car. However, don’t expect to go anywhere fast, or carry much luggage with you, as performance and practicality were two of the Aygo’s worst scores.
Driver Power reliability score: 95.72% (29th)
Mazda’s supermini was one of the oddities of this year’s Driver Power. It rocketed 133 places from 161st in 2015 to 28th in the overall rankings. Despite 2015’s rather dismal performance, reliability was its best score that year. That score remains one of the strongest for the Mazda 2 in 2016, as it came 29th out of the top 150 cars surveyed. Handling, build quality, in-car tech and running costs are rated highly, too – all qualities small Mazdas are traditionally known for. Drivers weren’t as full of praise for practicality, performance and seat comfort, however.
Driver Power reliability score: 95.79% (26th)
The third-generation Fabia marks a huge improvement over its predecessor, which finished a lowly 153rd overall in last year’s survey. As is expected for a Skoda, its reliability score was one of the better marks – it came 26th out of the top 150 cars to own in that category. The Fabia also scored well in the areas that really count for a supermini: namely ease of driving and running costs. In fact, the Skoda did so well overall that it’s the second most satisfying car in this top 10 list – only beaten by its smaller Citigo sibling in the overall satisfaction rating.
Driver Power reliability score: 96.31% (22nd)
The Kia Rio remains a bit of a leftfield choice for supermini buyers, but owners think the stylish Korean car has a lot to offer. A great reliability score is also to be expected from a manufacturer that offers a seven-year warranty with all its new cars, which is why it ranks as the 6th most reliable small car as voted by you. However, the firm suspension and sluggish engines mean the Rio continues to rank poorly for ride quality and performance.
Driver Power reliability score: 96.49% (21st)
The Suzuki Swift made a solid comeback into the overall Driver Power scores in 2016, as it climbed an incredible 81 places to 58th. That was largely down to an impressive 21th position overall in the reliability category, making it the 5th most reliable supermini to own in 2016.
Owners also rated the Swift’s road handling abilities, which was thanks in part to the range-topping Swift Sport warm hatch. You also told us it’s easy to drive and cheap to run, and that’s what a supermini is all about.
Driver Power reliability score: 96.55% (19th)
Dacia’s supermini has done well to score third most reliable supermini, after a surge in the overall Driver Power 2016 rankings. The Sandero’s low price tag hasn’t hampered its reliability score, which was its second best category. In fact, its rock-bottom prices and huge cabin are a winning combination for owners, who also rated it strongly for running costs, ride quality and practicality. Those who live with it every day think seat comfort is the car’s biggest bugbear, plus they tell us build quality, ease of driving and road handling are other weaknesses.
Driver Power reliability score: 97.19% (13th)
Like the Mazda 2, the Jazz is a slight anomaly on this list. The stereotypical Jazz strengths remain, as it came 13th in the reliability category out of the top 150 cars surveyed and the flexible interior also meant the Jazz took 5th place for practicality. However its engines and suspension came under considerable fire, as performance, road handling and ride quality came 148th, 144th and 146th out of 150 respectively. In fact, the bipolar scores meant it didn’t make the top 100 cars to own overall in 2016.
Driver Power reliability score: 97.17% (12th)
Despite the Hyundai i10 taking a drop in the overall survey results, buyers are still impressed with its reliability. It took 12th place overall in the reliability category, out of the 150 top cars. The i10 scores well in areas expected of a supermini, so along with pleasing reliability scores, it also rates well for ease of driving and running costs. The big losses are in areas in which it struggles to compete as a small, budget model; its performance and practicality rankings are down from 59th (the i10’s joint lowest scores in 2015) to 115th and 100th this year, while in-car tech has fallen even further, from 14th to 111th.
Driver Power reliability score: 97.24% (8th)
Cheap to run, nippy around town and, of course, reliable – the Skoda Citigo is a great small car. Along with taking the accolade of the second best supermini to own, it also takes the crown as the most reliable. The pleasing reliability result was a vast improvement on last year; the Citigo came 8th out of the top 150 cars to own in the UK compared to 65th place in 2015. The 1.0-litre engines are frugal – if a little down on performance – while tiny dimensions make the Skoda fun to drive. Owners find it rides potholes and bumps well, too.
So you know the top 10 most reiable small cars according to Driver Power 2016. Now it's time to explore the list in full...