Best car manufacturers 2016

27 Apr, 2016 7:00am

We count down 2016’s best car brands based on the views of 50,000 car owners who took our Driver Power survey

The Tesla Model S was crowned Britain’s best car to own in the 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, but now it’s time to rank the brands behind the models. Which car manufacturers are keeping their customers happiest in 2016?

Nearly 50,000 readers completed the Driver Power survey across Britain to tell us what their favourite cars were, and now we’ve collated this data to rate the manufacturers who build those cars.

• The best cars to own in 2016

In our Top 150, only cars with enough responses were considered, but the makers’ chart includes all a brand’s models to give a full view of how a car brand is really performing for its customers.

The same 10 categories were all rated individually, too – road handling, reliability, build quality, ease of driving, ride quality, practicality, running costs, performance, seat comfort and in-car technology.

• Most reliable cars to own in 2016

From this we discovered that Tesla dominated the results to seal top spot, sealing the double after the Model S won the honour of being Britain's best car. The company finished with a record 97.46 per cent, just under 6 per cent clear of their nearest rival in the charts.

In 2015 only one manufacturer scored above 90 per cent, but this year there were seven car makers above that figure, showing just how tough it is for car makers to rise up the table. So which marques have improved and which have let their scores slip? And where did last year's winner Lexus finish?

Have a look through our interactive data table below, or scroll down further to read our rundown of the top five best car manufacturers in 2016...

Click here to see the Driver Power 2016 results

Top five best car manufacturers 2016: full details

5. MG – 90.43%

After making its Driver Power debut on the podium back in 2014, MG has dropped another place in 2016, and trades places with Dacia this year by the tightest of margins. Still, its overall score is up, breaking the 90 per cent barrier, with the MG6 and MG3 still making their owners happy.

Owners consider MGs cheap to run, with low fuel bills and servicing costs, while they’re practical as well, offering decent cabin and boot space.

Most impressive is third place for road handling and fifth for seat comfort, suggesting owners can’t get enough of being behind the wheel. That’s at odds with 23rd for ease of driving and 19th for performance, although the company also achieves podium finishes for in-car tech, aided by a generous list of kit even on basic cars.

Despite an impressive year, MG can still improve – it’s 12th for reliability and 14th for build quality. It remains to be seen how the brand will fare as it enters the crowded SUV market with the GS, but your reviews of its current cars suggest it will do fine.

4. Dacia – 90.43%

After finishing fifth in our manufacturers’ chart for two years in a row, Dacia moves up a place to fourth. And it breaks 90 per cent for the first time with great performances from its Duster and Logan MCV – the latter being crowned best family car.

The brand majors on delivering no-nonsense motoring at unbeatable prices, so it’s no surprise to see it finish second for running costs. Practicality is also praised, as Dacias offer lots of space, while low costs clearly don’t mean dodgy parts; it’s third for reliability and practicality.

In-car tech scores fifth, proving owners are pleased with the generous standard kit and great value for money, even though the cars aren’t the most advanced on the road.

Again, there are areas for improvement, with Dacia in 20th for ease of driving and 19th for seat comfort. It’s also mid-table for road handling, performance and build quality. But these are categories normally associated with premium brands, and Dacia is unlikely to invest heavily to improve here and risk losing its unique selling point as maker of Britain’s cheapest cars. Either way, 2016 has been another great year.

3. Skoda – 90.45%

Skoda dropped to third last year, and it’s as you were for the popular brand in 2016. The Citigo and Yeti charted impressively in our Top 150 cars, while the ageing Superb Mk2 and new Fabia show that the company really does have the whole market covered. Meanwhile, the Octavia Mk3 was rated best compact family car.

All these models not only sell on their great-value price tags; you tell us they’re cheap to own, too, with Skoda ranked third for running costs. Plus, its cars are some of the biggest around – practicality is second.

The overall score is up, and any time a maker breaks the 90 per cent barrier it’s something to shout about. So although Skoda is no longer the all-conquering force in Driver Power that it once was, owners clearly still love their cars.

To get back to the top, the company has three areas to work on: road handling, ride quality and seat comfort. Focus on making the cars good to drive, and owner reviews will go through the roof again. Perhaps Skoda’s imminent new seven-seat SUV will address some of these concerns.

2. Lexus – 91.57%

Last year’s winning manufacturer has to settle for second place in 2016 despite increasing its overall score. Still, you tell us Lexus’ models are the best built of any brand, helped by the IS Mk3GS Mk3 and Mk4 and RX Mk2 and Mk3 charting in our Top 100.

Seven other category scores were inside the Top 10, too, showing that Lexus offers something for everyone; impressively, it finished on the podium for in-car tech, ease of driving, reliability and comfort.

Surprisingly, Lexus ranked 13th for running costs, suggesting owners expect more in terms of fuel economy, especially if they’ve bought one of the brand’s hybrids.

Practicality is the brand’s weakest point, but this is to be expected as cabin and boot space aren’t priorities in its range of compact executive and executive cars.

1. Tesla – 97.46%

A new entry and a new winner as Tesla does the double on its Driver Power debut after its Model S was crowned Britain’s best car to own in our individual chart.

The company is ranked as best manufacturer, comfortably ahead of its closest challenger, and that’s purely down to the success of the Model S. Owners score the all-electric executive saloon incredibly strongly, and because Tesla is essentially a single-model brand there aren’t any older, weaker cars dragging its score down.

Tesla ranks first in nine out of 10 categories, and in the other – build quality – it still finishes third. The rapid acceleration, free supercharging network and roomy boot with its extra seats mean owners see the Model S as the perfect companion on the road.

After this stellar debut, Tesla faces a challenge to keep it going. Once the new Model X SUV and Model 3 compact exec arrive, it won’t just rely on the saloon, and it’ll have to fight to reach the heights of 97.46 per cent again. Still, who’d bet against Tesla doing just that?

You can get all of the Driver Power 2016 results here. Don't buy your new car without checking them...

For more breaking car news and reviews, subscribe to Auto Express - available as a weekly magazine and on your iPad. We'll give you 6 issues for £1 and a free gift!