CAR brings you the results of the first customer satisfaction survey carried out on the South African new vehicle market by the internationally acclaimed J D Power and Associates.

CAR brings you the results of the first customer satisfaction survey carried out on the South African new vehicle market by the internationally acclaimed J D Power and Associates. This totally independent survey, based on the experiences of the buying public, establishes a Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) for all the local manufacturers/ importers, and there are some surprises . . .

Which manufacturers are good, average or poor when it comes to quality, reliability and service? Just how does your favourite model really fare in South Africa's complex and highly competitive new vehicle market? For the first time in South Africa - and exclusive to CAR - the authoritative J D Power and Associates has established a South Africa Customer Satisfaction Index Study (CSI) for the country's popular cars, MPVs, SUVs and pick-ups.

The survey

Unlike many other surveys, J D Power and Associates uses an independent list of customer names and addresses to garner its data to ensure the information is as unbiased as possible. To make sure the comparisons are representative, only owners of cars between 10 and 21 months old are surveyed. Every owner completes an eight-page questionnaire containing over 70 questions on what goes wrong, likes and dislikes, treatment at the dealership, and how much the vehicle costs to run. Scores are given for each item, which are then collated by J D Power and converted into a Customer Satisfaction Index.

However, it is important to note that, where an insufficient number of responses are received for a particular model - the minimum is 50 - the data contained in the responses is still used for determining the make's ranking, providing there is a minimum of 100 for that brand.

The categories

The survey does not cover the entire vehicle market, but rather concentrates on the most popular segments that collectively represent the vast majority of new sales. There are 11 categories and, for the sake of consistency and understanding, they cross-refer to those used for CAR's annual Top 12 Best Buys awards. However, in some instances they are sub-divided: for instance, sub-compact cars are split into "upper" and "lower". The survey includes passenger cars (five categories), MPVs (one), SUVs (three), and pick-ups (two).

The first part of this report deals with the categories on an individual basis, which is followed by a concise comparison of all models relative to their own and other categories - passenger vehicles, MPVs and SUVs against each other, and pick-ups against each other - then the top ten models, irrespective of category, in each of the four major survey criteria (quality, appeal, service and ownership costs) and, finally, the vehicle make ranking based on the results of the individual categories.

The criteria

The survey covers 25 different aspects - nine are linked to vehicle quality/reliability problems and encompass mechanical, dynamic, interior and exterior factors; eight cover vehicle appeal in the areas of styling, mechanical, dynamics and comfort/convenience; five assess the dealer/servicing experience, and the final three cover running costs (fuel economy, insurance and maintenance). The overall Customer Satisfaction Index (CSI) is derived from a weighted average of the ratings achieved in the 25 aspects.

Section 1

Individual results

This section shows the 11 categories split into the four major survey criteria - Problems are given as problems reported per 100 vehicles, with 0 obviously the best; Appeal and Dealer Service are given on a scale of 100 to 1 000, with 1 000 signifying the best; and Ownership Costs are given on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as the best.

Note that the ratings for models where there were less than 50 returns contribute towards the category's average, even though the models themselves are not listed.
Category 1: Light cars

Fiat is well represented in this category with three models, but one - the Uno - was discontinued during 2004, as was Mazda's 323/Sting. Not surprisingly, perhaps, Toyota's Tazz shows up the strongest, being equal to
Section 3

Top 10 in each category

· Table: Top 10 in each category

Based on the results i