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The best car brands in the UK: Driver Power 2023

Considering your next car? The UK's top car manufacturers are ranked in our annual owner satisfaction survey

Following on from our list of the UK's best new cars to own in 2023, we now reveal which car brands have impressed you the most in the past year.

Last year we updated the Driver Power survey with new sections on technology and value for money, plus a percentage score for the number of owners who suffered a fault with their cars in the first year of ownership. This data has then been fastidiously analysed to give you a true picture of the experiences of genuine owners and what they really think of the car makers operating in the UK car market.

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The results represent crucial information to have before heading to showrooms or drawing up a shortlist of cars. Our results show brands fall into clear categories, with some excelling in making cars fun to drive, while others nail practicality, cheap running costs or reliability.

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Some perform well in most areas, only to be let down by sluggish engines or poor infotainment systems. Others offer child-friendly interiors with lots of safety kit, so long as you don't mind more conservative styling.

Read on for the Driver Power 2023 manufacturer results to see which brand is most likely to suit you...

10. Jaguar

While Jaguar has slipped from sixth in 2022 to 10th spot this year, it’s still a good result for the British marque. Notably, it also puts Jaguar ahead of many of its rivals, including BMW (21st), Mercedes (25th) and Audi (30th).

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Reliability is still the biggest concern, with 44% of owners reporting a first-year fault, which is worrying, even if it isn’t the worst in this year’s survey. Jaguar buyers still find lots of love about their cars, including road handling and steering that are near the top of the table, along with a fourth spot for driving pleasure. The brand also scored well for both exterior design, quality and finish. Less pleasing is a 30th-place result for servicing costs, while the onboard navigation was just 23rd out of 32 brands.

9. Peugeot

While Peugeot has dropped from fourth last year, it has still managed to edge out sister-brand Citroen. This was partly thanks to its design pedigree, where Peugeot came an impressive seventh, well clear of Citroen in 16th. It was a similar story for how owners viewed their car interiors. Peugeot clearly tunes its cars for a more engaging feel, too, because the maker came ninth for road holding, while Citroen languished in 26th here – its cars are far more focussed on comfort.

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Peugeot is only middling for value for money, but its cars are unlikely to leave you stranded, with just 19% of owners reporting a fault in the first 12 months.

8. Lexus

Rather like some EV manufacturers on this list, Lexus performed far better in some categories than others. In the end, it did well enough to cement a top-10 position, but Lexus will no doubt be missing its spot near the top of the table. 

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It performed best for reliability and build quality, making Lexus a top choice for those after a hassle-free ownership experience; just 14% reported a first-year fault of any kind. Lexus also posted a first-place result for ride comfort, and owners clearly love driving their cars, putting the brand sixth for driving pleasure. Negatives holding the brand back this year include fuel economy and high insurance costs, while controls and Lexus’ touchscreens are also near the bottom of the table.

7. Mazda

Mazda has continued its top-10 ranking with a decent set of scores across the board for 2023. Mazda owners still think exterior design is top-notch, pushing it to a third-place finish in this category. It also excelled for its infotainment systems, coming first here. Every individual score for control layout, usability and touchscreens featured in the top 10.

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The Japanese manufacturer’s reputation for reliability was backed up by a third-place result here, despite one-quarter of owners reporting a fault in the first year. Places where owners reported that Mazda has room for improvement included acceleration, boot space, visibility and child-friendly features. Compared with rivals, seating flexibility could also be improved.

6. Kia

Kia has missed out on a podium position this year, but it performed well almost everywhere. Even driving pleasure (12th) was given an admirable score, despite its weakest category being for its engines and gearboxes, where Kia came 17th. More predictably, Kia did well in categories for child-friendly features, rear legroom and flexibility of seating.

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Running costs were also a strong point, with a fifth for servicing costs, and fourth place for overall value for money. Infotainment was also highly regarded, along with the intuitive layout of Kia’s interior controls and touchscreens. Overall, 25% of owners suffering a first-year fault will be a worry for Kia, but thanks to its seven-year warranty, owners should be able to get most issues resolved without it hitting them in the wallet.

5. Alfa Romeo

Despite being out of the rankings for a few years (largely due to relatively low sales in the UK), Alfa Romeo is back with a bang in fifth place. That’s thanks to happy owners, who have scored the Italian brand highly for exterior styling, road handling and steering. Despite this, ride quality was also good enough to snatch fifth place – impressive for cars at the sporting end of the spectrum.

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Areas where Alfa Romeo failed to dazzle owners quite so much included boot space (31st) and fuel economy (27th), along with reliability (20th). There were some unexpected scores too, including a first place for child-friendly features and second for cabin storage – strengths you wouldn’t necessarily associate with sleek Alfa Romeo models.

4. Subaru

After an absence from the Driver Power results in previous years, Subaru has returned – and in an impressive fourth place no less. It performed particularly well for interior, practicality, ride and handling and safety. Despite a seemingly off-putting 35% of owners finding a first-year fault, they were happy with overall reliability too. Subaru came top of the pile for visibility, rear legroom and seating flexibility, while child-friendly features weren’t far behind in second place.

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One category where Subaru could look to jump up the rankings in the future is fuel economy, with the brand currently languishing in 30th place. Perhaps the arrival of the electric Subaru Solterra will help in this area.

3. Tesla

American electric car maker Tesla holds onto third position this year. You tell us that Tesla offers some of the best powertrains of any car maker, with the brand second in the acceleration and powertrain smoothness categories. Owners praised the cheap running costs of their cars, and the practicality too.

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Tesla’s running costs were ranked in second position, and the brand managed high results for infotainment and safety features, along with fourth for practicality. Build quality and reliability is a concerning stain on the report card though; 40% of owners reported a fault in the first year of ownership – although this is down from 44% last year. Tesla owners are also unimpressed with the rather bland styling of their cars, and it came dead last for exterior quality and finish.

2. Polestar

Despite being a new entry in our Driver Power rankings, Polestar has stormed in at number two. The electric-only brand posted even more extreme results than rival Tesla, with vast swings in its rankings from one category to the next. Let’s start with the good news: You ranked Polestar first for its powertrains, running costs and safety features, while boot space and styling were also highly-rated.

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Now for the bad – it could only manage 31st for reliability, with a worrying 69% of owners reporting a fault in the first year; the highest proportion by far in the survey. While Polestar topped Tesla for road handling and driving pleasure, it also came bottom for ride comfort. Hopefully, new and facelifted Polestar models will prove far better sorted, and reliability woes will soon be a thing of the past.

1. Porsche

Finishing at the top of our survey is Porsche, for the third year in a row. It’s a very impressive feat, with the brand’s premium range of sports and luxury cars seeing off all rivals by coming top in some of our most important categories.

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The German manufacturer finished top for handling, steering response and driving pleasure, meaning owners genuinely love driving their cars. Owners were also wowed by Porsche’s build quality — although reliability seems to be on the slide, with 37% of owners reporting a fault, which is up from 29.6% in 2022 and less than 15% in 2021.

Elsewhere, the brand was highly rated for practicality, scoring strongly for boot space and seating versatility. Respondents also told us that Porsche running costs aren’t awful, with better-than-expected fuel economy (but expensive servicing costs), while the brand’s slick infotainment systems are excellent too.

The best car manufacturers 2023: 1-32 rankings

1Porsche91.27%
2Polestar90.94%
3Tesla90.80%
4Subaru90.77%
5Alfa Romeo90.43%
6Kia90.15%
7Mazda89.93%
8Lexus89.71%
9Peugeot89.30%
10Jaguar89.19%
11Citroen88.91%
12Toyota88.85%
13Volvo88.75%
14Land Rover87.94%
15MINI87.93%
16Mitsubishi87.81%
17Hyundai87.61%
18Honda87.59%
19Nissan87.46%
20Skoda87.38%
21BMW87.23%
22Suzuki87.08%
23SEAT86.58%
24Vauxhall86.58%
25Mercedes86.54%
26Dacia86.40%
27Volkswagen86.29%
28Ford85.98%
29Renault85.95%
30Audi85.76%
31Fiat84.84%
32MG84.08%

Want to see how manufacturers got on in 2022? Here’s the list so you can compare how they’ve improved or slipped down the rankings in 2023:

The best car manufacturers 2022: 1-29 rankings

1

Porsche

90.74%

2

Tesla

90.5%

3

Kia

90.4%

4

Peugeot

89.28%

5

Honda

88.94%

6

Jaguar

88.9%

7

Mazda

88.89%

8

Volvo

88.35%

9

MINI

88.34%

10

Toyota

88.3%

11

Hyundai

87.93%

12

Lexus

87.89%

13

Citroen

87.88%

14

Land Rover

87.58%

15

Nissan

87.34%

16

BMW

87.21%

17

SEAT

87.18%

18

Volkswagen

86.98%

19

Vauxhall

86.98%

20

Skoda

86.96%

21

Suzuki

86.42%

22

Audi

86.04%

23

Mercedes

85.97%

24

Renault

85.86%

25

Ford

85.22%

26

Mitsubishi

85.11%

27

Dacia

85.05%

28

MG

84.16%

29

Fiat

83.77%

Read our guides to the most reliable cars and most reliable SUVs.

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Andy is Carbuyer's managing editor, with more than a decade of experience helping consumers find their perfect car. He has an MA in automotive journalism and has tested hundreds of vehicles.

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