Best car manufacturers
Which brands offer the best overall ownership experience? We consult the results of our 2023 Driver Power survey
The 2023 Driver Power results are in, providing a comprehensive rundown of the best car manufacturers according to UK car owners. Having run for over two decades, the survey has been curated to gather a detailed insight into the ownership experience of each brand, and we’ve pulled your responses together to gain a clear picture of the industry pecking order in 2023.
Having gone through the data provided by car owners across the country, we've been able to analyse every car firm across a variety of metrics, from performance to practicality and reliability, to determine an overall percentage score for each. Read on to see which manufacturers made it to the top ten list…
Top 10 best manufacturers 2023
1. Porsche – 91.27%
Average share of owners who had faults with their cars: 37%
Porsche is known for performing well in evo group tests, but the Driver Power survey has also found it to be the best overall car manufacturer according to customers that have actually put their own money down for the third year in a row. Aside from excellent performance and driving dynamics, buyers reported robust build quality inside and out, with nearest rival Lexus some way behind in this regard. Reliability wasn't such a strong suit with Porsche placing 11th in this category, though.
2. Polestar – 90.94%
Average share of owners who had faults with their cars: 69%
Polestar's Driver Power performance varied dramatically across each category, but strong showings in the powertrain, running costs and safety departments pulled it ahead of every manufacturer aside from Porsche. Owners also scored the brand highly for handling, despite it falling to the bottom of the pecking order for ride comfort. Unfortunately, Polestar's reliability record is also suspect with an enormous 69 per cent of owners reporting faults in the first year of ownership – more than any other manufacturer.
3. Tesla – 90.80%
Average share of owners who had faults with their cars: 40%
Tesla’s class-leading electric powertrains, infotainment systems and low running costs catapult it to third place in our list. The Model Y and Model 3 are proving extremely popular with UK buyers, scoring well for everyday usability, cabin tech and safety features. Customers also rated Tesla as the third best manufacturer for driving enjoyment, although as with Polestar, feedback on ride quality isn't as positive with the firm down in 25th place.
4. Subaru – 90.77%
Average share of owners who had faults with their cars: 35%
Subaru may have a diminishing presence in the UK, but owners are clearly pleased with the few models that remain on our shores. Its cars scored particularly highly on the usability front, with owners reporting strong cabin space, safety and reliability. Subaru was also awarded first place for seating flexibility and visibility, while also being among the best cars for roadholding thanks to their four-wheel drive security. The Japanese firm hasn't rushed to market with electric cars with just a single EV in its lineup, and it scores poorly in terms of running costs.
5. Alfa Romeo – 90.43%
Average share of owners who had faults with their cars: 28%
Alfa Romeo's latest attempt at a renaissance might just be coming good in 2023. A top 5 finish is hugely encouraging, as is a relatively low percentage of owners reporting faults with their cars (the lowest of any manufacturer in the top 5, in fact). The Giulia and Stelvio prove that Alfa can trade punches with the class leaders for style and dynamics, but the brand also performs strongly for cabin storage and child-friendly features. Despite recent facelifts, the Giulia and Stelvio haven't adopted any form of hybridisation which hurts the firm's fuel economy score, but the new electrified Tonale SUV may help turn that around.
6. Kia – 90.15%
Average share of owners who had faults with their cars: 25%
Kia has dropped from its third place ranking last year, but it continues to score well in pretty much every category. The Korean firm is rated as the fourth best manufacturer for value, and customers are also pleased with the cabin space, servicing costs and fuel economy of their cars. Unfortunately, Kia's powertrains are less popular, and the firm is held back by carry-over components from older models in cars like the new Niro. Still, this should be less of an issue as EVs continue to populate its model lineup.
7. Mazda – 89.93%
Average share of owners who had faults with their cars: 25%
Unlike most mainstream manufacturers, Mazda hasn’t pulled out the stops with a push towards EVs just yet, focusing instead on extending the life of ICE models with more efficient engine tech. With a seventh place in this year’s survey, that strategy seems to be paying off, with customers reporting excellent reliability and a user friendly driving experience with conventional controls and ergonomics. Predictably, Mazda wasn’t a top performer in terms of acceleration against more EV centric firms, but it took top spot in the infotainment category thanks to an intuitive control interface that isn’t reliant on touchscreens.
8. Lexus – 89.71%
Average share of owners who had faults with their cars: 14%
Lexus made it onto the top ten with its excellent build quality, ride comfort and reliability. It also achieved the lowest fault rate of any brand in the top ten, with fit and finish and material choice ranking well. Under the evo microscope, the LC500 impressed us with its superb engine, refinement and attention to detail, and it seems some of that quality has trickled through to mainstream models – fiddly cabin tech was the only real blot on the Lexus copybook.
9. Peugeot – 89.30%
Average share of owners who had faults with their cars: 19%
Aside from Alfa Romeo, Peugeot is the highest ranking car firm from the Stellantis group in Driver Power this year, indicating that it's making good use of the component toolbox that it shares with Vauxhall, Citroen and DS. Compared to its stablemates, Peugeot scored particularly well in the design and interior categories, with a large gulf between itself and Citroen in terms of dynamics. Questionable ergonomics held Peugeot back from placing higher up the order, though.
10. Jaguar – 89.19%
Average share of owners who had faults with their cars: 44%
By sneaking into the top 10, Jaguar outperforms chief rivals BMW, Mercedes and Audi in this year's survey, despite falling a few places short of Alfa Romeo. Jaguar's proven record of exemplary chassis dynamics is key to its success, scoring near the top of the table for steering response, ride comfort and road-holding. Cabin quality and design were also well received, although patchy reliability continues to plague the firm with 44 per cent of owners reporting faults with their cars. Servicing costs are also among the least satisfactory in the survey.