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The UK’s favourite car?

Consumer magazine Which? Car has named the Toyota Yaris Verso as the UK’s most popular car in its annual awards. According to the publication, 92% of owners surveyed would recommend the mini MPV to a friend.

However, the survey has been rubbished by critics as being non-representational of the UK motoring public.

“The problem with this kind of survey is that it poses more questions than it answers. The sample is far too small to be representative. Only 33,000 people replied to the survey which, compared to the 25 million-plus cars on the road in the UK, is pretty insignificant,” says Simon Harris, consumer editor of Parker’s.

Toyota sold just 1,323 Yaris Versos in the UK last year while main rival the Honda Jazz sold more than 25,000 units. Residual values for the Yaris Verso are also lower than the Jazz.

“While the Yaris Verso is proven to be reliable and spacious, it would not be a suitable car for everyone, and it makes up just a tiny fraction of new car sales in the UK. Calling it the UK’s most popular car is disingenuous,” says Harris.

Which? Car editor Malcolm Coles claims that “people who drive a car every day for years are the best judges of its performance”. The runners up in the ‘popularity stakes’ were the Subaru Forester, the Mercedes-Benz E-class, the Subaru Impreza and the Audi A3.

Strangely, Which? Car criticizes Mercedes-Benz for coming bottom of its reliability ratings, and yet recommends the E-class as one of the top three luxury cars.

“Much of what shapes responses is how the ownership experience matches up to expectations. If people experience a few problems with a modestly priced car, they might not be as upset as if they suffered breakdowns in a more expensive car,” adds Harris.

The survey covers cars up to eight years old but compares them alongside new cars. For instance, the large cars section covers a disparate mix including the Jaguar X-type and Volvo S60 alongside the Citroën Xantia and Mazda 626.

Many of the cars criticized for poor crash safety were designed before the Euro NCAP tests began, and one car listed as ‘prone to breakdowns’ – the Mazda RX-8 – has a rigorous maintenance regime that might have caught out some owners.

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