28 September 2010

Car Makes Ranked Part 1: US & Asia

How people view car brands is very important. One man said people would buy a turd if it had a BMW logo on it. Although a little crude, the comment is spot on. Brand prejudice is something all are affected by, especially those who can afford to be so. So how do I rank brands, and do you think I am brand prejudiced? There are three parts to this series and not every brand is mentioned but most are.

Chinese Brands: Chery, Geely, BYD, Great Wall and a myriad other makes are made in China. Most will go under and never be seen outside of China but some will, such as the ones listed. They usually look quite well styled and are inexpensive to buy. However, build quality is questionable to put it politely, and their crash worthiness is disgraceful. I cannot recommend anyone to buy any Chinese brands until they improve enormously. With Chinese branded cars, you cannot trust anything you do not see. The only makes that are probably acceptable are the Roewe and MG brands, which came from the defunct MG Rover company (see pic). Score 1.5/10

US Brands: These cars do not make it here (NZ) in big numbers, but I have an idea of where they are at. The big three in the US scored poorly in reliability, quality, driving dynamics. On the plus side, they always had a style about them and generally looked good. They have certainly improved the weak areas, especially reliability . The Chrysler Group is not up to the standard of Ford or GM and Fiat has a big job bringing it up to speed. Score 5/10

Korean Brands: Hyundai, Kia, Ssangyong and Samsung were all about value once but now they are also well made and competitive. despite this improvement, I don't think they have reached their target - equaling Japanese makes - but they are close to it. The style and driving experience is also below the European competition on some models. They are now competing on more than just price. Unfortunately, Ssangyong drags the score down. Score 5/10.

Japanese brands (non premium): Toyota, Nissan, Honda, Suzuki, Daihatsu, Mitsubishi, Mazda and Subaru are all reliable, well made cars. Where most of the brands tend to fail is that they are too conservative. They appeal to the mind but not the heart. Recent upward movements in the Yen mean they have offer less value for money too. Score 7/10

The bottom line: The Japanese have consistency throughout their brands, earning them top in this comparison.

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