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5 of the most underrated car brands

When you’re looking for a new or used car, it can often be tempting to stick to the same brands you’ve driven for years. The reality, though, is that you could be saving money by shopping around. After all, the most expensive cars aren’t always the most reliable!

In this article, we’ll showcase a few of the more underrated car brands on the market, helping you to buy smarter when you purchase your next vehicle. Let’s get to it!

MG

You could be forgiven for thinking that the MG brand had disappeared: its former parent company, MG Rover, collapsed in 2005. However, the enduring popularity of the marque ensured its survival, with the name and branding now owned by Chinese firm SAIC Motor.

It would be fair to say that MG remains a relatively small player in the world of motoring: in 2017, the company was responsible for just 4,441 new car registrations, capturing a minuscule 0.17% of the UK market share, according to figures from best-selling-cars.com.

The customers who did choose to invest in an MG, however, were impressed. The marque comfortably made it into the top ten in WhatCar’s brand reliability survey, with high marks for the MG 3 hatchback model. If MG keep this up, a proper revival isn’t totally off the cards.

Subaru

Also making it into the top ten on the aforementioned WhatCar survey is Subaru, which ranks just two places below MG. The Japanese brand enjoys a fair deal of popularity over in the US, with the brand proving particularly strong in New England. Car buyers in the UK, however, have fallen out of love with Subaru — the company’s 0.11% market share is even more anemic than MG’s.

Ask Subaru drivers what they think of their motor, however, and they’ll happily report that they experience very few issues. The standout here is the Forester, which performed superbly in the large SUV category with a reliability score of 81.8%.

Dacia

It’s hard to imagine a brand with the same level of market dominance as Dacia manages in its native Romania. In fact, four of the top five best selling cars in Romania in 2015 were Dacias, with almost three times as many Dacia Logans sold as the next-best selling model (another Dacia: the Duster). The brand is taking a little longer, however, to work its way into the consciousness of the British public.

Nonetheless, its reputation, which at one time was somewhat rough and ready, slowly began changing following the brand’s acquisition by Renault in 1999. The brand underwent a refresh in the mid-2000s, and now offers Renault quality vehicles at aggressively low prices.

Today, Dacia’s share of the UK market remains small: just under 1% of new vehicle registrations were Dacias in 2017. However, WhatCar recently lauded the brand as one of the most dependable on the market, with the brand ranking third for dependability, just behind Lexus and Suzuki.

Volvo

While Britain’s roads are generally among the world’s safest, they still saw over 100,000 car accidents in 2016. Though most leading causes of car accidents come down to driver error, it’s still good to know that the car you’re driving has a reputation for safety. Enter Volvo, who say that by 2020 no occupant will be killed in one of their cars. Bold claim indeed.

Over the years, Volvo has acquired a reputation for always putting safety first — perhaps not the sexiest quality, when compared to the ruggedness of Land Rover or the luxury of Mercedes-Benz – but an extremely important one nonetheless. And when you’re looking for a family car safety is high on the priority list.

Despite this, the Volvo brand, whilst certainly not unknown, spent a period of time languishing outside the big leagues after it was bought by Ford in 1999, with some customers feeling that the lower-end Volvos were little more than rebranded Fords. In 2016, the company even faced the indignity of seeing the VW Golf take the crown as the best-selling car in Volvo’s home country of Sweden — the first time they’d been knocked off the summit since 1962.

Nonetheless, there are signs that Volvo is staging a comeback. Since its acquisition by Chinese firm Geely in 2010, people have flocked back to the brand. In 2016, the company saw its best year for UK sales in a quarter of a century, bolstered by strong reviews and multiple awards for the company’s newest models, including the XC40, XC60, XC90, S90 and V90.

Skoda

Considered the laughing stock of the road in the eighties and nineties, few car brands have undergone quite as complete a transformation as Skoda. Since its acquisition by Volkswagen in 2000, however, Skoda has quietly gained a reputation as one of the most reliable car brands on the market.

With this in mind, it should come as little surprise to learn that Skoda’s popularity is on the rise. In fact, while it sits outside the top ten most popular marques in Britain, it’s easily the most popular brand of those featured on our list.

It seems that there’s a good reason why Skoda’s star is rising: in The Independent’s 2017 Ultimate Reliability Survey, Skoda cars put in a solid performance, with the Yeti placing third in the small SUV category. The Kodiaq, Fabia and Citigo models, meanwhile, performed well in the large SUV, small car and city car categories respectively.

No fewer than four models have received five-star ratings from WhatCar, with two even being named Car of the Year 2018—the Octavia won the Family category, while the Superb Estate came out on top in the Estate field. Not bad for a Skoda.

** This is a collaborative post

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