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Skoda hot on Lexus’ CSI heels

Lexus, winner of the JD Power customer satisfaction survey for the fifth year running, only narrowly managed to beat Skoda to first place in the most influential rating of automotive consumers.

It was a photo finish this month, with Toyota’s up-market brand scoring 84.8%, only 0.1 of a percentage point more than Skoda whose brand director Chris Craft says: “We’re delighted to see the gap between ourselves and the prestige brand ahead of us reduced to such a tiny margin.”

Scott Brownlee, Lexus GB spokesman, says: “Sooner or later, someone else is going to win – and we know how the media works. The biggest benefit of the award to us is helping our retailers to close deals – it’s a reassurance for people making the move away from BMW or Mercedes-Benz.”

Continuing success is also good for network morale, says Brownlee. “We don’t set out to win JD Power. Our focus is our customers.”

Other brands mounted a challenge to Lexus. Japanese rivals Honda and Toyota were only a few points behind, just ahead of BMW and its Mini offshoot, this year’s “most improved” brand – and in only its second year competing for JD Power acclaim.

Dave Sargent, JD Power European operations executive director, says: “Lexus will need to do better to retain No 1 next year.”

The JD Power study is based on the comments of more than 23,000 owners of ‘52’ and ‘03’ registration cars after an average two years’ ownership. It covers 32 manufacturing brands and 124 models.

Owner evaluation covers quality/reliability, vehicle appeal, dealer service and ownership costs. MG Rover was fourth from last as a brand.

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