Second-hand superminis with the best and worst reliability track records revealed

By Rob Hull For Thisismoney.co.uk Published: 07:14 GMT, 29 November 2020 | Updated: 12:51 GMT, 29 November 2020 Superminis are designed to be affordable runarounds aimed predominantly at new drivers o

Second-hand superminis with the best and worst reliability track records revealed

Second-hand superminis with the best and worst reliability track records revealed: Small cars with the lowest repair bills and ones with lots of problems

  • Warrantywise has named the 10 most and least reliable used superminis based on data from 750k customers
  • Figures are for vehicles aged between 3 years - which is when most new car warranties expire - and 8 years
  • Reliability scores are made up of frequency of claims, repair costs, repair time, age of vehicles and mileage in the last 5 years 
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Superminis are designed to be affordable runarounds aimed predominantly at new drivers or families looking for a second car.

However, buy the wrong one and you could be tackling recurring faults, finding yourself without wheels for days while your car is being repaired and facing huge garage bills.

We've teamed up with used car warranty provider Warrantywise to exclusively reveal the best and worst rated smaller models for second-hand buyers... 

Small cars with big problems: We reveal which superminis have strong reliability records and 10 that are subject to substantial garage bills to keep on the road

Small cars with big problems: We reveal which superminis have strong reliability records and 10 that are subject to substantial garage bills to keep on the road

While reliability surveys tend to be based on vehicle samples of between 20,000 and 50,000 motors, the database we're exclusively using to reveal which models are most dependable is made up of more than 750,000 customers who have taken out cover on their older cars since 2015.

The figures provided are for vehicles aged between three years - which is when most conventional new car warranties expire - and eight years old.

Warrantywise's Reliability Index is calculated using a formula which takes into account a number of factors.

This includes the frequency of claims in the last five years, repair costs, time spent in the garage being fixed and the average age and mileage of models to provide an overall score out of 100.

Here's a countdown of the ten best rated used supermini models, according to the data, followed by a list of the small cars with the worst records, according to the rating system.

TOP RATED USED SUPERMINIS

10.  Hyundai i10

Reliability score: 82.6%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 6.8%

 Average claim amount: £402

Clutch issues are most common with the Hyundai i10, meaning cars are usually off the road for a couple of days being repaired

Clutch issues are most common with the Hyundai i10, meaning cars are usually off the road for a couple of days being repaired

The Hyundai i10 is classified as a city car and is one of the better options on the market, with peppy small petrol engines and a funky interior.

Just under seven per cent of owners of the compact Hyundai had to raise a warranty claim in the last five years, with clutch faults being the most common problem.

Repairs took marginally more than a couple of days on average, and bills are at the steeper end of the spectrum for cars listed in the most reliable rankings.  

=7. Vauxhall Agila

Reliability score: 85.7%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 6.2%

 Average claim amount: £485

The Vauxhall Agila was the sister car to the Suzuki Wagon R and benefited from some Japanese reliability. Watch out for issues with steering racks, says Warrantywise

The Vauxhall Agila was the sister car to the Suzuki Wagon R and benefited from some Japanese reliability. Watch out for issues with steering racks, says Warrantywise

The Agila has long been removed from Vauxhall's new-car range, but it has lasted the test of time pretty well. This is helped by the fact it is largely based on a Suzuki Splash (and the previous generation shared parts with the Suzuki Wagon R), so has benefited from traditionally strong Japanese build quality.

Six per cent of owners have claimed in the last five years, with steering rack problems being the most prominent cause of faults for the Agila.

Repair costs of £485 are the most expensive of all the ten supermini featured with the best reliability records.

=7.  Toyota Yaris

Reliability score: 85.7

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 6.1%

 Average claim amount: £462

Toyota's Yaris has always been regarded as one of the most reliable superminis across all generations. The data suggest clutch problems can be pricey, but it's among the most dependable models in class

Toyota's Yaris has always been regarded as one of the most reliable superminis across all generations. The data suggest clutch problems can be pricey, but it's among the most dependable models in class

The Yaris has always been one of the better performing supermini models when it comes to reliability.

Owners in the last five years have rarely had to make claims, though when they do they average out at £462 - which isn't cheap.

The reason for the expensive garage bills is likely down to clutch issues being common, which are traditionally pricey to replace. Repairs on average take less than two days, according to the data.

=7. Nissan Note 

Reliability score: 85.7%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 9.1%

 Average claim amount: £308

The Nissan Note is an extremely practical supermini, with a high roofline making it feel more like an MPV. Average repair costs per claim are pretty low, and suspension springs are the most likely issue

The Nissan Note is an extremely practical supermini, with a high roofline making it feel more like an MPV. Average repair costs per claim are pretty low, and suspension springs are the most likely issue

Nissan's Note is a supermini that toed the line between compact car and MPV. It was one of the most practical models in the segment but was removed from showroom as more drivers drifted towards the Juke SUV.

Still, it makes a solid second-hand buy, with around one in ten owners with used warranties having to make a claim in the last five years.

Repair bills are relatively small on average, and most common faults are with suspension springs. Spares should still be readily available.

=5. Ford Fiesta

Reliability score: 86.3%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 7.7%

 Average claim amount: £345

Britain's most-bought new and used cars for the last 11 years is among the most reliable second-hand superminis you can buy

Britain's most-bought new and used cars for the last 11 years is among the most reliable second-hand superminis you can buy

Britain's most popular new and used car for over a decade has made it into the list, which is great news for the hundreds of thousands of drivers who own them.

Suspension problems are most prevalent among the eight per cent of owners who had to make claims in the last five years.

All repairs on average take fewer than two days and bill are around £345. It helps that there are plenty of spares due to the overwhelming popularity of the small Ford. 

=5. Suzuki Alto

Reliability score: 86.3%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 4.2%

 Average claim amount: £326

The Suzuki Alto is a cheap and cheerful supermini. While it might be a little basic, it has few hi-tech features that can possibly go wrong

The Suzuki Alto is a cheap and cheerful supermini. While it might be a little basic, it has few hi-tech features that can possibly go wrong

Suzuki has always had a good track record for reliability, and the Alto is no different. While it was extremely basic when it was being sold in showrooms, clearly there were few things that could go wrong.

Just four per cent of owners with Warrantywise policies had to make claims in the last five years. And average repair bills are pretty low.

Gearbox problems are the only major concern for used car buyers, the data suggests. 

4. Nissan Micra

Reliability score: 87.0%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 5.6%

 Average claim amount: £403

Nissan's Micra has always been a popular small car among Britons. Buyers are warned to check records to see if there is any history of engine issues, which tend to be the most common reason owners decide to use their warranties

Nissan's Micra has always been a popular small car among Britons. Buyers are warned to check records to see if there is any history of engine issues, which tend to be the most common reason owners decide to use their warranties

Nissan's Micra has always been a popular choice in the UK, and for good reason. It's relatively well equipped, efficient to run and dependable to own. 

Around six per cent of owners using Warrantywise have had to make a claim in the last five years, with engine-related issues being the most common reason for them to use their cover.

Average claim values - at £403 - are relatively high and owners can expect for their cars to spend a couple of days in a garage to be fixed.

3.  Mazda2

Reliability score: 92.5%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 5.6%

 Average claim amount: £264

The Mazda2 has relatively low repair bills, based on warranty claims. That's despite suspension problems being most common

The Mazda2 has relatively low repair bills, based on warranty claims. That's despite suspension problems being most common

Another Japanese supermini to make it into the best rated small car standings is the Mazda2. 

Average warranty claim costs are among the lowest of any supermini, despite the most common issue being related to the suspension, which tends to be expensive to resolve.

Only six per cent of Warrantywise customers who own a Mazda2 had to use their cover to make a claim in the last five years. 

2. Honda Jazz

Reliability score: 94.4%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 3.2%

 Average claim amount: £340

The Honda Jazz is a hugely popular supermini in the UK. Owners love its practicality and spacious cabin. Just 3% of owners with used warranties have made a claim in the last 5 years

The Honda Jazz is a hugely popular supermini in the UK. Owners love its practicality and spacious cabin. Just 3% of owners with used warranties have made a claim in the last 5 years

The Jazz is a hugely popular small car, especially among senior drivers. Roomy, flexible and easy to drive, the compact Honda has lots going for it.

The used car warranty provider said that just three per cent of owners with this model up to eight years old had to make a claim in the last five years. While occurrences of claims are low, the cost of them is still quite high compared to other.

This, like other cars in this list, is due to clutch issues being the main reason owners of the Honda Jazz utilise their warranties. 

1. Dacia Sandero

Reliability score: 97.5%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 3.2%

 Average claim amount: £211

Cheap, cheerful...and copper-bottomed: The Dacia Sandero is the best-rated second-hand supermini, according to Warrantywise's data

Cheap, cheerful...and copper-bottomed: The Dacia Sandero is the best-rated second-hand supermini, according to Warrantywise's data

This will come as a bit of a surprise to many - the cheapest new car on sale for the last few years is also the supermini with the best reliability track record, according to Warrantywise data.

Dacia's Sandero is cheap and cheerful. And according to warranty claim records, also very dependable.

Of owners of this car with a policy, just over three per cent have used it to make a claim between 2015 and now.

Average repairs take just over half a day - the shortest period in the garage of all cars here - and repair bills are just over £200. Electrical gremlins are the only cause of concern.

LOWEST RATED SUPERMINIS

10. Peugeot 208

Reliability score: 74.5%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 10.1%

 Average claim amount: £432

The Peugeot 208 might look like a handsome little car, but its reliability track record looks relatively ugly compared to the most dependable models already listed above

The Peugeot 208 might look like a handsome little car, but its reliability track record looks relatively ugly compared to the most dependable models already listed above

Peugeot's 208 certainly adds a touch of style to the supermini segment. Fashionable good looks and a classy interior make it an appealing option.

However, Warrantywise says that one in ten owners of 208s had to make claims in the last five years due to issues with their vehicles.

Electrical woes have resulted in pricey bills of more than £430 on average, though repairs appear to be quite straight forward with the average amount of time off the road being less than two days. 

=8. Audi A1

Reliability score: 73.9%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 8.5%

 Average claim amount: £605

The Audi A1 not only has a premium price but equally expensive running costs too, according to used car warranty claims

The Audi A1 not only has a premium price but equally expensive running costs too, according to used car warranty claims

The Audi A1 is among the most expensive superminis on the market, though high purchase prices are matched by premium running costs.

Average claims, which were made by over eight per cent of A1 owners, come to £605. While average claim amounts are high, most are to cover the cost to resolve electrical faults rather than component issues.

Owners tend to have to wait, on average, for two days while their cars are being fixed by mechanics. 

=8. Citroen C3

Reliability score: 73.9%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 10.2%

 Average claim amount: £466

The Citroen C3 looks great, but serious problems could be lurking under the bonnet with cylinder head gasket issues have resulted in used car warranty claims by owners

The Citroen C3 looks great, but serious problems could be lurking under the bonnet with cylinder head gasket issues have resulted in used car warranty claims by owners

It won't come as a huge surprise to many that another French car has slipped into this list. The Citroen C3, like the Peugeot 208, looks great and drives well, but isn't the most dependable small car you can get your hands on, based on used warranty claims.

One in ten owners of C3s with warranties on their second-hand Citroens have made claims since the start of 2015, records show.

The biggest problem is a bad one - issues with the cylinder head gasket. This explains why the average claim amount comes to over £450 and it takes almost three days for mechanics to complete work on the C3.

=6. Mini Hatch

Reliability score: 72.1%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 11.2%

 Average claim amount: £597

The Mini Hatch is one of the most desirable of all superminis. Retro looks, a classic cabin and brilliant handling make it one of the most in-demand smaller cars there are. But running costs, and repairs, are expensive

The Mini Hatch is one of the most desirable of all superminis. Retro looks, a classic cabin and brilliant handling make it one of the most in-demand smaller cars there are. But running costs, and repairs, are expensive

Like the Audi A1 mentioned earlier, the Mini Hatch is at the upper end of the price spectrum when it comes to superminis. It's adored for its retro looks, classic interior and incredibly fun handling and performance.

But while you'll be having plenty of laughs driving a Mini, there are some issues that might quickly wipe that smile off your face.

More than one in ten owners with a Mini Hatch between three and eight years old had to make a claim to Warrantywise in the last five years. Average bills are expensive too - almost £600. And it's engine problems that are most commonly causing headaches for owners. If your Mini does go wrong, expect not to see it for almost three days on average while repairs are being carried out.

=6. Vauxhall Meriva

Reliability score: 72.1%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 15.6%

 Average claim amount: £415

Water pump issues are what cause problems most for the practical and versatile Vauxhall Meriva, according to the data

Water pump issues are what cause problems most for the practical and versatile Vauxhall Meriva, according to the data

The Meriva was Vauxhall's answer to a practical supermini. A high roofline to offer plenty of headroom, lots of boot space and a capacious cabin made it a Tardis-like small model.

However, around one in six owners with used warranties had to claim on their polices in the last five years due to pricey repair costs.

Water pump issues are most common and mean average garage bills amounted to £415. 

5. Peugeot 207

Reliability score: 69.0%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 14.7%

 Average claim amount: £478

Another French car in the list is the Peugeot 207. Various engine woes are what cause owners to use their warranties

Another French car in the list is the Peugeot 207. Various engine woes are what cause owners to use their warranties

We've already had the Peugeot 208 in this list, and its predecessor - the 207 - also makes an unwelcome appearance in the worst-rated supermini standings.

Plenty of people bought the 207, though over 14 per cent of owners who are also Warrantywise customers have had to make a claim for repairs since the beginning of 2015.

Various issues with the engine are the route of the problems. Average repair costs are in the region of £500. 

4. DS Automobiles DS3

Reliability score: 64.6%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 14.2%

 Average claim amount: £536

Electrical problems are most common with the sporty DS3. Warranty claims average at over £500

Electrical problems are most common with the sporty DS3. Warranty claims average at over £500

While hot hatch status is usually reserved for models in the medium-size segment, there are plenty of 'warm' hatches in the supermini class. One of these is the sprightly DS3, which is the sportier sibling of the Citroen C3.

But like its sister car, the DS3 isn't proving to be all that dependable. Of owners with warranties, 14 per cent have used their policies to pay for high repair costs in the last five years.

Electrical gremlins are most common and - looking at average bills - expensive to resolve. 

3. Alfa Romeo Mito

Reliability score: 61.5%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 20.4%

 Average claim amount: £515

While it had plenty of style, the Alfa Romeo Mito didn't have much substance. It was also very susceptible to going wrong, according to the volume of warranty claims

While it had plenty of style, the Alfa Romeo Mito didn't have much substance. It was also very susceptible to going wrong, according to the volume of warranty claims

Alfa Romeo isn't best known for producing superminis, and the Mito is one the Italian brand would probably like to forget in a hurry. While it has plenty of style, it lacks dependable substance.

Of all Warrantywise customers who own Mitos, one in five have had to make a claim to cover the cost of repairs since 2015. Ouch.

Garage bills aren't cheap, costing over £500 with the most common repair issue being related to electrical faults. 

2. Vauxhall Corsa VXR

Reliability score: 37.9%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 20.8%

 Average claim amount: £1,051

Of owners with warranties, more than one in five Corsa VXR owners have had to turn to their policies in the last 5 years. And they are right to do so, given how pricey the average warranty claim is

Of owners with warranties, more than one in five Corsa VXR owners have had to turn to their policies in the last 5 years. And they are right to do so, given how pricey the average warranty claim is

The Vauxhall Corsa VXR is a supermini on steroids. A big engine, huge wheels, flared body kit and garish colours make it stand out. It is pretty rapid for a small car, too.

However, the boy-racer VXR is proving to be relatively unreliable to own. Of owners with used-car warranties, more than one in five have had to turn to their policies in the last five years.

And that's no surprise, given the average repair bill is a staggering £1,051. This is due to gearbox problems, which looks to be a common issue in this model.

 1. BMW i3 

Reliability score: 33.0%

 % of owners who made a claim in 5 years: 15.8%

 Average claim amount: £1,234

Around one in six owners with Warrantywise polices have had to make claims, which is fewer than other cars in this list. However, the average repair cost is an eye-watering £1,234

Around one in six owners with Warrantywise polices have had to make claims, which is fewer than other cars in this list. However, the average repair cost is an eye-watering £1,234

If you thought the Dacia Sandero topping the most reliable superminis list was surprising, the car gracing the bottom of the standings is shocking - quite literally. That's because it's the BMW i3 - the German brand's small electric vehicle.

Examples up to eight years old are either fully electric or range extender models - versions with a small petrol engine to supplement the battery and electric motor.

Around one in six owners with Warrantywise polices have had to make claims, which is fewer than other cars in this list. However, the average claim amount is an eye-watering £1,234, which is more than any other vehicle in this list. 

CARS & MOTORING: ON TEST

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