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2015-10-22 09:00

TOPS IN QUALITY: Lexus' new ES earned gold in the 2015 Ipsos quality awards. Image: Quickpic

FERDI DE VOS

Cape Town - If you own a Volkswagen Polo Vivo hatch, Lexus ES, Mercedes-Benz C-Class Coupé, Toyota Avanza or previous generation Audi Q7, you have a winner.

Similarly if you park a Nissan NP200 bakkie, Hardbody petrol or Navara diesel double cab, or a Toyota Hilux petrol or diesel single cab in your garage…

But you probably already know that.

Still, it’s good to know that in terms of quality (and reliability) you have made the right choice, as confirmed by the findings of the latest in-depth Ipsos quality study, which includes vehicles sold from January to December 2014, released today.

Over 30 000 samples

The studies were conducted using telephonic interviews with over 30 000 vehicle owners over a 12-month period. The customer’s purchasing and service experiences were measured 10-35 days after delivery, while product quality interviews took place 90 days from purchase.

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According to Ipsos the surveys are strictly controlled to ensure high levels of scientific validity and reliability. So, for example, a sample that is too small for certain brands or models will not be listed in the rankings.

The best-performing vehicle manufacturers and distributors are rewarded for excellence with three levels of awards (gold, silver and bronze), while discretionary platinum awards are given for consistent excellence.

Some perspective

But before getting into the detail, let’s qualify a couple of things…

Participation of the Ipsos product quality study is voluntary, and while it covers manufacturers and distributors responsible for more than 83% of the country’s annual sales volume, some notable brands are shining in their absence.

These include BMW (a hint of arrogance, perhaps?), Chrysler and Fiat, Hyundai, Jaguar and Land Rover, as well as all the Indian and Chinese manufacturers.

This is important, as their non-participation obviously make the study less representative. It’s also a pity, as BMW’s performance in terms of quality in local manufacturing in particular, could have added some perspective.

Also of interest is the influence of manufacturing origin on the quality ratings of some imported models.

This is specifically true of some Indian sourced products, such as the Honda Brio and Ballade, Ford Ikon and Figo, and the Renault Duster (now sourced from Romania in Europe); the Toyota Etios being a notable exception.

Also interesting is the fact that locally produced LCV’s are still viewed as of marginally lesser quality than vehicles sourced from overseas. This may be a result of comparing local, mostly bakkie-based product with more sophisticated, vehicle-based imported models.

A further observation is the correlation (or lack thereof?) of results for the quality study and those of the Ipsos Purchasing and Servicing Quality Awards announced in June this year.

Volkswagen and Audi fared very well in this regard but even so did not blitz the latest quality results…

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Top performers

So who are the top performers? Well, Toyota fared particularly well in the latest study, especially with its light commercial vehicle (LCV) range.

After being awarded with four consecutive Gold Awards, Toyota receives Platinum Awards for Best Overall LCV Brand (with a PP100 score of 33), Best One Ton Double Cab LCV Brand (PP100 score of 34) and Best Local Plant Manufacturing LCVs (PP100 score of 31) in the latest results.

Toyota – together with Kia – is also awarded with Gold as the Best Volume Passenger Car Brand with a PP100 Score of 31) and – along with Mercedes-Benz – was ranked first as the Best Local Manufacturing Plant for Passenger Cars (PP100 score of 25).

As last year Mercedes-Benz continues to be a front-runner in product quality. Not only did it receive a Gold Award as the Best Luxury Passenger Car Brand (PP100 score of 26), but after four consecutive Gold Awards, the E-Class was recognised as the Best Top Executive Model (PP100 score of 17) and received a Platinum Award.

The A-Class received a Gold Award as the Most Improved Luxury Passenger Car (PP100 score of 22, compared to 39 in 2014) and ranked alongside Toyota as the Best Local Plant Manufacturing Passenger Cars (PP100 score of 25).

New vehicles

In the rankings for new vehicles (not included in the previous study) the Lexus ES won Gold in the category for Luxury Passenger Cars (PP100 score of 10). The relaunched Nissan Sentra was the Best New Volume Passenger Car (PP100 score of 23) and Kia’s new Sorento was judged the Best New Recreational Vehicle (PP100 score of 22).

The Best New Light Commercial Vehicle was the new Nissan Hardbody Petrol Double Cab (PP100 score of 24).

Most improved vehicles


A high level of improvement was shown in the Most Improved Awards – a clear indication of how seriously manufacturers and distributors take product quality and feedback from customers.

By improving its PP100 score of 39 last to 22 in 2015 the Mercedes-Benz A-Class is the Most Improved Luxury Passenger Car, alongside the Audi A3/S3 Sportback (improved from 38 to 22).

Likewise, the Ford Focus Hatch improved from a 2014 PP100 score of 59 to 29 in the latest results, making it the Most Improved Volume Passenger Car.

The Most Improved Recreational Vehicle is clearly the Kia Sportage with a PP100 score of 34, compared to 55 in 2014.

The Nissan Navara Diesel Double Cab also improved impressively from a PP100 score of 56 to 24, to be awarded Gold as the Most Improved Light Commercial Vehicle.

Market segment winners

Gold Awards were made to various manufacturers and distributors in the different market segments.

Entry-level vehicles

The Volkswagen Polo Vivo Hatch is the highest-ranked Entry Vehicle (PP100 score of 30), while the Kia Rio Hatch, Honda Jazz and Toyota Yaris Hatch leads the Small Hatch category with PP100 scores of 25 each.

Top hatch, small sedan

The Top Hatch Gold Award winner is the Toyota Auris (PP100 score of 19), with the Chevrolet Sonic Sedan (24) and Nissan’s Almera (26) gaining Gold in the Small Sedan category.

Medium, executive sedans
The Lexus ES (10) is rated the best Medium Sedan, with the Audi A3/S3 Sedan (22), Nissan Sentra and Toyota Corolla (both on 23) top of the Top Sedan log.

The Mercedes-Benz E-Class (17) is rated the Top Executive Vehicle, and Mercedes-Benz also scoop the Sports Coupé class with the C-Class Coupé (13).

MPVs, RVs
The Toyota Avanza (24) is considered the best MPV quality wise, with the Volkswagen Tiguan (13) rated as the best Small Recreational Vehicle and the Audi Q7 (13) as the best Large Recreational Vehicle.


LCVs
In the LCV categories Nissan and Toyota are the clear leaders. Nissan’s NP200 (45) received a Gold Award as the best Three-quarter Ton Vehicle, the Hardbody petrol double cab (24) is the best Petrol Double Cab and the Navara (24) the best Diesel Double Cab.

Toyota’s Hilux is rated as the best Petrol Single Cab (26) and best Diesel Single Cab (31).

In the smaller Three-quarter Ton category the Nissan NP200 (45) and Chevrolet Utility shares Gold, while the Ford Ranger Diesel Single Cab’s PP100 score of 33 was enough to earn it Gold in the Diesel Single Cab category.

Continued improvement

According to Ipsos Automotive Business Unit Director, Patrick Busschau, it is clearly from these in-depth studies that product quality in South Africa continues to improve.

He said: “We have again seen a marked improvement in quality during 2014, despite growing technological complexity in vehicles.

“What is particularly pleasing is the general improvement across all the major participating brands, and even those models that did not receive awards are produced to a very high degree of quality after steady improvement over the last ten years.”

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