The Mazda MX-5 and the Mercedes-Benz CLC Coupé cater for very different customers, but the Mazda just sneaks it as the top performer for reliability, according to your feedback
The Which? Car Survey is the biggest and best in the UK. And the 52,563 people who took part last year have helped us to rank the most reliable sports cars – both new and second-hand.
Sports cars come in different guises – from dedicated sports cars with few creature comforts, but zippy acceleration and fun country-lane handling, through to coupé versions of conventional models and fully-loaded luxury cars with sporting pretensions.
Read on to find out the top ten most reliable sports cars, according to the 2011 Which? Car Survey.
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Most reliable new and used sports cars
1. Mazda MX-5 (2005-)
Reliability score: 90%
The long-established favourite, Mazda MX-5 is the modern-day MG Midget, but with the added benefit of excellent reliability. Early models match Mazda’s excellent brand record, scoring five star ratings for not breaking down, although newer versions (post-2008) slip slightly, managing only four stars. Owners are very happy with the car (92% satisfaction rating) and rarely report faults or niggles either – with non-engine electrics being the most commonly reported fault – affecting 8% of cars.
It’s not the most practical car (to be fair, it’s not trying to be), but with new prices starting at just under £17,000 and used versions for less than £7,000, the MX-5 could be for you.
2. Mercedes-Benz CLC Coupé (2008-2010)
Reliability score: 90%
The CLC Coupé is really a sports coupé version of the company’s C-class saloon. It bucks the average Mercedes brand reliability rating, earning five stars for not breaking down. Owners report few faults (four stars), though it only scores three stars for niggles and its biggest reported problems are on auxiliary electrics (18%).
The CLC is a more practical option than the Mazda, but not as much fun and at a far higher price; you can pick up used examples from around £12,000. Owners gave it quite a disappointing 60% satisfaction rating in the 2011 survey.
3. Audi TT (2006-)
Reliability score: 89%
The Audi TT is another car that bucks its manufacturer’s trend for reliability. While Audi brand reliability is poor (two stars), the TT scores four stars for not breaking down and the same for reported faults. It suffers more niggles – things which annoy, but don’t necessarily prevent you from using the car – getting two stars on early models and three on later ones. Auxiliary electrics are the most commonly reported faults (34% on early versions, 13% on later ones). Sunroof problems were also reported by 14% of owners.
It probably falls somewhere between the top two cars for practicality, but it pips the Mazda for desirability. It’ll set you back a lot more money than the MX-5, though – with new prices ranging from a snip over £24,000 up to around £49,000 for the TT RS. Used examples can be found for as little as £6,500, though, making it a viable alternative to the Mazda. Owners gave the TT an 81% satisfaction rating.
4. BMW 1 Series Coupé (2008-)
Reliability score: 87%
The 1 Series Coupé is another example of a sporty version of a family car. It adds an edge to driving experience, with the compromise being that it’s slightly less practical. It scores an excellent five stars for not breaking down, although it is average for faults and niggles – at three stars. Eleven percent of owners reported auxiliary electrical issues and the car achieved an 80% owner satisfaction rating.
Handling of the 1-series Coupé is first-rate and it beats the Audi for comfort and practicality. New prices range from £22,000 and used examples start at a little over £12,000. Expect a new version to arrive soon, in the wake of the latest 1 Series hatchback.
5. Audi A5 Coupé and Convertible (2007-)
Reliability score: 86%
Audi’s second car in the top 10 is the A5 Coupé and Convertible. Like the TT, it bucks Audi’s poor brand reliability record and is a five-star performer for not breaking down. It’s average (three stars) for faults and poor (two stars) for niggles. Like most modern cars, the auxiliary electrics are the most reported fault, at 14% of cars.
New prices for the A5 start at around £26,000 and go up to nearly £60,000 for the RS5. You can pick up used versions from around £15,000. Owners love their A5 Coupé and Convertibles, awarding them an 89% satisfaction rating.
6. Mercedes-Benz SLK (2004-2011)
Reliability score: 84%
Another Mercedes makes the top 10. The Mercedes-Benz SLK has just been replaced by a new version, but early versions of this model do well for breakdowns, faults and niggles, scoring four stars, five stars and four stars respectively. Later versions aren’t quite as good, scoring three stars across the board. The most common faults are non-engine electrics (11%), suspension (10%) and ventilation (9%).
This is another competitor, in both size and performance, for the Audi TT, although it’s quite a lot pricier, with new prices ranging from a little over £31,000 to around £54,000. You can find used examples for £11,000 upwards – if owners are willing to sell. They may not be, as they give it a 79% satisfaction rating.
7. Volkswagen Scirocco (2008-)
Reliability score: 83%
From a reliability perspective, you’re probably best owning a diesel version of the Volkswagen Scirocco, as these scored five stars for breakdowns, four for faults and two for niggles. The petrol cars scored three stars for breakdowns and faults and a disappointing one star for niggles. Electrics are again the biggest reported fault, at 19%.
The Scirocco shares a lot of components with the Audi TT, but it offers better practicality. Owner satisfaction is high, at 87%, and prices are reasonable, starting around £20,000 and going up to just over £31,000. Used cars are available from around £10,000 upwards.
8. BMW 3 Series Coupé (2006-)
Reliability score: 82%
Early (pre-2007) petrol or late (2008-) diesel versions of the 3 Series Coupé are best for reliability. The petrol cars score four stars for not breaking down and the diesel ones score five. However, post-2008 petrol cars score just two stars for breakdowns, faults and niggles, and early diesel cars are ok for faults (five stars) but score just two stars for breakdowns. Problems with the auxiliary electrics are the most reported – by 23% of petrol owners and 12% of diesel owners – so check everything works before you buy used
This is really a sporty version of the 3 Series saloon, so it will go head-to-head with the likes of the Audi A5. Prices range from around £27,000 to £57,000, and you can pick up a used one from just over £12,000. Owner satisfaction is good, at 81%.
9. Volkswagen Eos (2006-)
Reliability score: 80%
The Eos is VW’s convertible answer to cars like the Renault Megane CC and the BMW 1 Series convertible. Its ability not to break down is average (three stars) for later models, but earlier versions (pre-2008) scored just two stars. The later versions score poorly for faults (one star), while the earlier ones score four stars. All ages score just two stars for niggles.
The most reported faults include rain seals and exterior trim (both 22% on early cars), while auxiliary electrics are reported by 19% of owners whatever the age of their car. So it’s definitely worth getting these checked out before buying a used Eos. Owners are generally happy, scoring it a 79% satisfaction rating.
10. Mini Convertible (2009-)
Reliability score: 77%
The Mini Convertible combines the novelty of the Mini with the fun of a convertible. It probably competes most closely with the Mazda MX-5 in this list, but other small convertibles like the Peugeot 207 CC and Fiat 500C might also be worth a look. New prices range from £15,000 to just over £27,000, and you can pick up a used one from around £12,000.
It scores three stars for breakdowns and four for faults, but its niggle-rating is poor at just one star. The most commonly reported faults are with the interior trim (15%) and the auxiliary electrics (15%).It achieved an overall owner satisfaction rating of 80%.