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Reliable cars

The 5 most reliable car brands

Reliable carsAccording to a recent survey, UK buyers think German cars are among the most reliable on the road. However, real repair data from Warrantywise largely contradicts this, with Japanese brands dominating the reliability roundup. Join us as we count down the five most dependable car brands – and reveal the average repair cost for each.

Reliable cars5. Hyundai

Dependability score: 88

Want some Korea’s advice? Buy a Hyundai. You get a five-year manufacturer warranty, good-value prices and a strong dependability score of 88. The Tucson SUV is decent to drive, too.

Reliable cars5. Hyundai

Average repair cost: £577

Like many of its rivals, Hyundai is trying to move upmarket with its own premium sub-brand: Genesis. Would the promise of good reliability make you choose a Genesis over an Audi? Phil Collins has so far refused to comment…

Reliable cars4. Mitsubishi

Dependability score: 89

Mitsubishi sees the future in plug-in hybrids, like its Outlander PHEV. In the present, though, the firm is doing very nicely indeed. Sales are up, and a dependability score of 89 puts it fourth here.

Reliable cars4. Mitsubishi

Average repair cost: £833

Ouch! Yes, that’s the highest average repair cost here – a whopping £833. To put that in perspective, it’s more than double what you’d typically pay to repair a Smart. Good thing Mitsubishis are reliable, really…

Reliable cars3. Suzuki

Dependability score: 92

Suzuki got off to a shaky start with its Celerio city car, which failed a brake test conducted by Autocar magazine. However, the Celerio is now fixed and proving reliable, as a dependability score of 92 shows.

Reliable cars3. Suzuki

Average repair cost: £424

The latest Vitara is good fun to drive – and repair costs are affordable for a 4×4. The average across the Suzuki range is £424.

Reliable cars2. Toyota

Dependability score: 93

Toyota recalls always make the news, but their relative frequency shows how keen the company is to ensure its products are totally reliable. It just loses out to one of its Japanese rivals – but who could that be?

Reliable cars2. Toyota

Average repair cost: £592

Whatever you think about the styling of the new Prius, it’s likely to be very dependable indeed. Toyota has proved that hybrid tech needn’t mean excessive repair and maintenance costs.

Reliable cars1. Honda

Dependability score: 93

So here we are at the top of the table – and it’s Honda that takes first prize. Its dependability score of 93 is actually the same as Toyota, but average repair costs are lower.

Reliable cars1. Honda

Average repair cost: £535

From the practical Jazz to the banzai Civic Type R, Honda has a car to suit most tastes. If you value trouble-free motoring, it’s the number one choice.

Suzuki Vitara

Suzuki Vitara S: Two-Minute Road Test

Suzuki VitaraThis is the hot hatch of SUVs. It really is. It’s Suzuki’s latest (and rather good) Vitara, fitted with an all-new 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol engine and, in this case, an automatic gearbox. But is it worth the £20,000-plus asking price? Keep clicking to find out…

Suzuki Vitara rivalsWhat are its rivals?

There’s no shortage of trendy crossovers on the market, especially if you’ve got a Vitara S budget to play with. There’s the darling of the segment, the Nissan Juke, as well as its platform-sharing Renault Captur. Both of these are perhaps quirkier choices, but lack the off-road credibility of the Vitara. Then there are fashionable options such as the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X – both of which are available with a 170hp petrol engine, if you’re after sprightly performance.

Suzuki VitaraWhich engine does it use?

So, that 1.4-litre turbo? Despite being smaller than the 1.6-litre petrol also offered, it actually sits above the bigger engine in the Vitara range. It produces 140hp and 162lb ft of torque (that’s more than Suzuki’s hot hatch, the Swift Sport), resulting in a 0-62mph time of 10.2 seconds.

Suzuki VitaraWhat’s it like to drive?

The standard Vitara, especially when fitted with four-wheel-drive (standard on the Vitara S), handles really well. Body-roll is well controlled, while the steering provides plenty of feedback. It’s definitely a ‘warm hatch’ among crossover SUVs – even more so when fitted with this eager engine.

It feels considerably quicker than its 0-62mph time suggests. A low 1,210kg kerb weight (nothing for an SUV) makes it pretty nimble, while the automatic gearbox is quite happy to drop down in a hurry if you’re looking to overtake or accelerate out of a corner as quickly as possible.

Suzuki VitaraFuel economy and running costs

Following the downsized-engine-plus-turbo recipe, the Vitara S is actually more efficient than the sensible 1.6-litre in the range. Officially, anyway. While the auto returns 51.4mpg on the combined cycle (52.3mpg for the manual), small capacity turbos like this usually struggle to match their official figures. And if you drive it like a hot hatch? Well…

Suzuki VitaraIs it practical?

Yes, more so than many of its rivals. The Vitara boasts a 375-litre boot space with the seats up, while the boot opening is large and easily accessible. Rear passengers will appreciate the high-up seating position and good visibility and, although the interior does have a few less-than-premium plastics, it’s largely a pleasant cabin. There’s a lot of standard kit, too.

Suzuki VitaraWhat about safety?

The Vitara’s four-wheel-drive system should provide that extra stability if you regularly drive in slippery conditions. Like most of its ilk, it usually runs as a front-wheel drive car, diverting power to the rear when required. It’s clever, though – the Vitara will anticipate this before it happens. So, if you mash the accelerator mid-bend, it’ll send power to the rear before it detects slip.

Combine this with a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating and a plethora of tech (such as an automatic radar braking system), and the Vitara should prove a very safe family SUV.

Suzuki VitaraWhich version should I go for?

If you’re after the 1.4-litre turbocharged engine (we’d recommend it if you’re budget can stretch to it), you’re restricted to the top-of-the-range Vitara S. The only choice to make then is the £20,899 manual or £22,249 auto. We’d probably opt for the manual ’box, but that comes down to personal preference.

Suzuki VitaraShould I buy one?

If you want a crossover that drives really well, then yes. It’s a hefty price to pay for a Vitara, but you do get a lot for your money in the range-topping Vitara S. Suzuki has a reputation for making reliable cars, so the Vitara shouldn’t prove troublesome, and it has more off-road ability that most of its peers. It’s a smart buy.

Suzuki VitaraPub fact

To brighten up the cabin, Suzuki has given the Vitara S various splashes of colour as standard. We like the red stitching on the steering wheel and seats, but the rings around the air vents definitely look pink to us. They’re red, insists Suzuki, but they’re anodised – which might make them appear pink in certain lights. Tell that to your mates down the pub.

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ3 Dualjet: Two-Minute Road Test

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ3 Dualjet: Two-Minute Road Test

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ3 Dualjet: Two-Minute Road Test

Do not confuse this with the regular Suzuki Celerio. The regular Suzuki Celerio is a sensible, affordable city car that will provide impressive fuel economy and get you from A to B while stopping short of impressing your mates. Unless your mates are 80-year-old bingo players called Doris.

But this is the Dualjet version. Dramatic music, if you will. Without getting too techy, it basically means the Celerio is even more economical. The most efficient car in its class, in fact.

What are its rivals?

There’s no shortage of competition for the Suzuki Celerio – from trendier alternatives such as the Toyota Aygo and Volkswagen Up! trios, to rivals from Korea including the Hyundai i10 and Kia Picanto, plus newcomers such as the Vauxhall Viva. It’s a sector that’s come on leaps and bounds in recent years, and buyers are expecting a lot more from their low-cost city cars.

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ3 Dualjet: Two-Minute Road Test

Which engine does it use?

All Suzuki Celerios come with the same engine – a 3-cylinder, 1.0-litre petrol. But this model features the firm’s clever Dualjet technology, which uses twin fuel injectors positioned close to the engine inlet valves. This allows for a finer fuel mixture, providing a more effective transfer into the engine. The result is better fuel economy, lower emissions, and a slight increase in torque.

What’s it like to drive?

The Celerio is very much a shopping car, but it’s actually surprisingly fun. The steering is light and features a tiny turning circle – ideal in town – but the clutch is almost too light, making it difficult to feel the biting point. The Celerio’s compact dimensions (particularly its 1.6-metre width) mean it squeezes through gaps that would send door mirrors flying if you attempted them in most modern superminis.

Weighing just 845kg, it flies along, feeling much swifter than its 13.0-second 0-62mph time suggests (half a second quicker than the regular Celerio, thanks to that extra torque). It starts to feel slightly out of breath when you close in on the national speed limit, but that’s unlikely to be an issue for the average Celerio buyer.

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ3 Dualjet: Two-Minute Road Test

Fuel economy and running costs

Of greater importance is just how efficient this Celerio is. It’ll return an incredible 78.4mpg on the combined cycle – 12.7mpg more than the regular Celerio with the same engine, but without the Dualjet technology. It emits 84g/km CO2, meaning you won’t pay anything in road tax (but then you wouldn’t with the 99g/km regular Celerio, either).

Is it practical?

The ‘box with a wheel at each corner’ approach is nothing new within the city car segment, but it does make for a car that’s rather practical for its diminutive size. Four adults can fit in relative comfort, with plenty of headroom and legroom – but those of a wider build might want to look elsewhere. This isn’t the most stylish of city car interiors, with lots of hard plastics, but it feels fairly well-built.

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ3 Dualjet: Two-Minute Road Test

What about safety?

If you take Euro NCAP’s three-star safety rating for the Celerio at face value, you’d be right to be concerned about its crashability. But it scored reasonably high for adult and child occupants, losing points for the lack of safety systems such as a speed limiter, lane-keeping assist or autonomous emergency braking as standard. Are you willing to go without these in a bid to keep costs down?

Which version should I go for?

The Dualjet Celerio costs £500 more than the equivalent Celerio SZ3 (£8,499 compared to £7,999). You’ll have to do the sums to work out whether you can justify that extra initial expense for the improved fuel economy, but no one will find the regular model particularly thirsty. There’s no tax advantage for buying the Dualjet, either.

Suzuki Celerio 1.0 SZ3 Dualjet: Two-Minute Road Test

Should I buy one?

The biggest challenge the Celerio faces is the quality of its rivals. They all offer more personalisation options (something buyers in this sector love, car manufacturers keep telling us). And the Celerio really is little more than a white good – a very efficient, and surprisingly enjoyable white good, perhaps, but it’s going to earn you little kudos if you care about that sort of thing.

If you value a low purchase price (or finance rate) and extremely low running costs with a modicum of practicality, the Suzuki Celerio makes sense. And you might enjoy driving it more than you’d expect, too.

Pub fact

UK buyers can only opt for the 1.0-litre petrol engine (with or without Dualjet tech), but Indian customers can have a 0.8-litre two-cylinder diesel. It produces just 47hp and returns 78.6mpg – a fraction more than the Dualjet petrol.

Suzuki reveals Baleno hatchback ahead of Frankfurt 2015

Suzuki reveals Baleno hatchback ahead of Frankfurt 2015

Suzuki reveals Baleno hatchback ahead of Frankfurt 2015

Suzuki has revealed a teaser image of its new Baleno hatchback ahead of the 2015 Frankfurt Motor Show.

Based on the iK-2 concept, revealed at Geneva earlier this year, the Baleno will be powered by a 1.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.

Suzuki says the Baleno’s weight has been reduced using a variety of technology.

It will be Suzuki’s second B-segment car, sitting alongside the Swift in its model range.

Early indications suggest it will be slightly larger than the Swift – perhaps meaning it’ll compete with the likes of the Honda Jazz and Nissan Note.

The Baleno will be on sale in the UK early in summer 2016.

Suzuki SJ - Great Motoring Disasters

The Suzuki 4×4 that cornered like a motorbike

Suzuki SJ - Great Motoring DisastersWhen it comes to road transport, four wheels are generally better than three, and if staying dry and safe bothers you, two wheels even more.

Suzuki’s baby SJ410 four-wheel drive, however, occasionally seemed uncertain over whether it was a four-wheeler or a two, a little too much of its maker’s proud motorcycle prone to sudden appearances while cornering.

See, the SJ410, a rather neat and temptingly affordable jeep-in-miniature, had a tendency to tip and fall.

Install someone young, fast and unaware behind its neat plastic wheel, show them a bend and they could rapidly learn about high centre’s of gravity and their potential effects on tall, narrow objects travelling at speed, as well as the unsuitability of off-roaders for speedy on-roading and how toppling over does not look cool.

Suzuki SJ - Great Motoring Disasters

Not that ‘cool’ was a cool word in the mid ‘80s, when the Suzuki SJ fad really took off. But the Suzuki suddenly became a very cool thing, particularly if it was white, had white wheels and was (usually) occupied by someone wearing white stilettos.

Commonly found outside night clubs in the era when George Michael, Madonna, Duran Duran and Frankie Goes to Hollywood sang floor-filling hits, the SJ was a favoured set of wheels for the legendary 1980s Essex Girl, who usually chose the soft-top version of this tiny four-wheel drive to better show-off her orange tan and peroxide streaked hair. Occasionally, this myth was even true.

Suzuki SJ - Great Motoring Disasters

The Suzuki SJ, however, was not originally designed for the cocktail-and-paper-umbrella world at all. It was a descendant of Suzuki’s 1970 LJ20, a miniature twin cylinder jeep with utility styling, selectable four-wheel drive and a price low enough to forgive its canvas doors.

Cleverly, its spare wheel was helpfully stored behind the front passenger seat so that it squeezed within the tight dimensions of a Japanese Kei car.

Despite its puny 25bhp it was an effective device in a quarry, and among others, began being bought by civil construction companies. They favoured it over Land Rovers, because the LJ was so cheap that its purchase price could painlessly be written-off over the life of the contract, the no-doubt heavily-abused Suzuki binned on the project’s completion. Others simply bought them as a cheap set of fun wheels.

Suzuki had discovered a new niche, and in 1975 enlarged the LJ’s 360cc twin to a heady 550cc, creating the LJ50. The spare wheel migrated to a mounting hung from the LJ’s rear-end, this big-engined export version not needing to comply with the Kei car rules.

It sold well in Australia, encouraging Suzuki to introduce the still more reckless LJ80, this time with a four cylinder developing a rampant 41bhp. The LJ80’s eventual launch into the Netherlands, the absence of inclines presumably flattering its performance, formed a bridgehead for an advance party of these baby jeeps into Europe.

But it was the 1982 SJ that led the invasion into Britain’s nightlife, although it took a while to warm up. Launched as the SJ410, it was propelled by a 1.0 four that could push it no further than 68mph on 45bhp and four speeds, which was fine for off-roading if less effective on the A118 towards Romford.

A separate ladder chassis, simple drum brakes and a quartet of leaf springs were designed to sustain a tough life on building sites and in the bush, spanners and a welding torch good for fixing anything that broke. Not that much did – the SJ was a tough little thing.

Like plenty of early off-roaders this Suzuki was part-time four-wheel drive, the price-reducing absence of a centre differential not only requiring you to jab a lever for all-wheel drive, but also to get out and lock the front wheel hubs.

Not good for footwear if you’d entered a bog, especially stilettos. But with low range as well you could get yourself across some pretty testing terrain and being light – just 850kg as a soft-top – the SJ could get about like a mountain goat. And without munching on the local vegetation.

In Britain sales were limited by the fact that there was a quota applied to the import of Japanese cars, the so-call Gentlemen’s Agreement largely devised in a (failed) bid to protect British Leyland’s tumbling market share.

Suzuki investigated building the SJ in Europe to circumvent it, and did a deal with Spain’s Santana Motor which ironically, also made BL’s Land Rover to its own recipe. Assembly of the SJ began in 1987, allowing Suzuki’s increasingly successful UK importer to bring almost unlimited numbers of SJs over here.

Suzuki SJ - Great Motoring Disasters

Two years earlier the SJ413 had been launched as an estate, its 1324cc motor putting out 66 ground-shivering horsepower to further tempt buyers. This and a five-speed gearbox boosted the SJ’s top speed by 10mph to 78mph, although it was still going to struggle against a white Escort XR3i cabriolet screaming its way to Millionaires.

But before that came scandal, and not of the Essex girl variety. An assortment of consumer bodies, including Britain’s Which? and America’s Consumer Reports, discovered that if you drove a tall and narrow vehicle into a bend faster than you would a Lotus, it tended to topple over.

In fact, you could be going a lot slower than you would in a Lotus and still momentarily reduce tyre-wear on the SJ’s in-board flank.

The discovery of this destabilising habit produced a small explosion of angry newsprint. And in America, a lawsuit, which uncovered the fact that Suzuki had tried to hide the truth about the SJ’s instability.

Little of which seemed to impede its sales and certainly didn’t produce a recall. Instead, salespeople were lamely told to make buyers aware of its on-road limitations.

Suzuki SJ - Great Motoring Disasters

Towards the end of the ‘80s the SJ had almost become a cult car, its UK importers cannily exploiting its appeal with the sale of special versions like the Rhino, complete with silhouette of said beast on the spare wheel cover, graphics packs, alloy wheels, bull-bars and side rails.

All of which allowed one nightclub guest to distinguish their SJ over another’s, though perhaps less successfully in a dark winter car-park.

In 1988, Suzuki supplemented by the decidedly more stylish Vitara, whose stabilising extra width usefully diminished the chance of scraping its roof. That sold well in white too.

Today the SJ is almost forgotten, partly because it became as unfashionable as shoulder pads, but also because most disappeared into the ether, their thin steel panels dissolving as fast as ice cubes after the party.

But if you want to relive some of the experience – though not the tendency to topple – you can buy the Suzuki Jimny, the SJ’s diminutive and long-running successor, debuting in 1997.

It’s not so great on road, but it’s brilliant off-it, and doesn’t cost much. Which was Suzuki’s original point.

Now watch the video that caused all the fuss…

2015 Suzuki Vitara review

Suzuki Vitara review: 2015 first drive

2015 Suzuki Vitara review

New Suzuki Vitara combines brand heritage with funky looks and even off-road ability. Entry-level SZ4 is a bargain to be had. Read more

Suzuki Celerio brake failure caused by a "crash being detected too early"

Suzuki Celerio brake failure caused by ‘crash detected too early’

Suzuki Celerio brake failure caused by a "crash being detected too early"

Suzuki has said that the cause of reported brake failure in its new Celerio city car was a brake pedal that retracts in the event of a crash to avoid causing injury.

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Suzuki Celerio brake failure caused by a "crash being detected too early"

Suzuki Celerio brake failure caused by 'crash detected too early'

Suzuki Celerio brake failure caused by a "crash being detected too early"

Suzuki has said that the cause of reported brake failure in its new Celerio city car was a brake pedal that retracts in the event of a crash to avoid causing injury.

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2015 Suzuki Vitara to start at £13,999

2015 Suzuki Vitara to start at £13,999

2015 Suzuki Vitara to start at £13,999

Suzuki has confirmed that its new Vitara SUV will start at £13,999 when UK order books open later this year.

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Do these Suzuki concepts hint at a new Swift and Jimny?

Do these Suzuki concepts hint at a new Swift and Jimny?

Do these Suzuki concepts hint at a new Swift and Jimny?Suzuki has teased these two concept cars ahead of their public debut at the 2015 Geneva Motor Show.

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