It’s an age-old argument, held around kitchen tables and bars all over the country. Which country produces the best cars? Well, The Car Expert has been able to pull together exclusive data to bring you the definitive results.
We’ve harnessed the power of The Car Expert’s unique Expert Rating Index to rank every passenger car brand that currently sells new cars in the UK and sort them by country of origin. By analysing more than 10,000 new car reviews for more than 400 new cars from 30 of the UK’s leading motoring websites, we’ve put together the most comprehensive report on how British motoring journalists rate cars from each country.
Because the car industry’s manufacturing facilities are spread all across the globe, we’ve grouped together brands by their country of origin rather than where the factories may be based. For example, many readers may not be aware that Germany’s most famous brand, Mercedes-Benz, builds many of its cars in countries like South Africa, Austria and the USA. Likewise, Japanese brands like Nissan and Toyota build hundreds of thousands of cars each year here in the UK, while British brands Vauxhall and MG no longer build any passenger cars here in Britain (although Vauxhall still builds vans here).
We’re only looking at car companies that sell new cars here in the UK as of March 2022, so there are no Russian or Chinese car brands. There are also relatively few American car brands, as they have largely abandoned Europe in recent years.
Car brands by country
Hover over each of the flags to see the brands from each country and their scores, as well as the overall country ratings.
As you can see, most of the brands that sell cars in the UK are from Europe. The USA might still be a global powerhouse in the automotive industry, but very few American brands still sell new cars in the UK – there are no Cadillacs, Chevrolets, Chryslers, Dodges, Lincolns, RAMs or others officially sold on our shores.
Likewise, there are no Chinese brands who have expanded into the UK market just yet. Several are making plans to do so, but they are not likely to reach these shores until 2023 at the earliest.
Best car-producing countries
The Czech Republic tops the table, which is all thanks to Škoda (which is, in fact, the only car company from Czech Republic that still exists). Motoring journalists have long raved about the quality of cars that Skoda produces, especially given that they usually cost less than similar models from Skoda’s parent company, Volkswagen.
Sweden takes second place, thanks to the combined scores of Volvo and its performance EV offshoot, Polestar.
Results for the “big-name” countries like Germany, the UK, Italy, Japan and France all represent a wide range of scores. For example, Ferrari is the second-best rated brand in the UK, but Italy’s score is dragged down by Abarth, Fiat and Maserati, who all score poorly.
At the bottom of the table, France suffers because none of its big brands score well. Everyday French cars appear to be relatively unpopular with UK reviewers, and there are few star performers to lift the overall score.
The country scores are generally determined by the biggest-selling models, as these cars tend to get the highest number of reviews – which works well for our analysis, as it presents a good ‘real world’ picture of the cars that most consumers are likely to purchase.
We tend to think of countries like the UK as being powerhouses of the industry, thanks to the reputations of big-name brands like Rolls-Royce, McLaren and Bentley. But these brands only tend to have small numbers of models and their cars are not usually available to a wide pool of reviewers. As a result, these iconic brands tend to carry relatively little weight in our analysis. The flipside is that car manufacturers often don’t like journalists reviewing their worst models either, so those cars are often not readily available to the motoring media.
The ten best car brands
Out of 46 car brands in this analysis, it’s no surprise that the top ten is filled with some of the most presitigious names in the automotive world.
It might seem amazing the the lowest-ranked country is home to the top-ranked car brand, but there’s a reason. Alpine currently only offers one car – the superb A110 sports car. The brand, owned by Renault, is set to expand its offerings in coming years, so it will be difficult to maintain that score across more mainstream models.
Ferrari and Rolls-Royce are predictably right there at the top as well, while Tesla shows that the technology of its all-electric line-up matches the social media hype that has accompanied it for the last decade.
It’s not really suprising that the top ten car companies are dominated by luxury brands – after all, you’d hope that a £300,000 Rolls-Royce would be better than a £30,000 Renault. What’s probably most interesting is that budget brand Škoda cracks the top ten, ahead of prestigious brands like Mercedes-Benz and Land Rover, and well ahead of anything else in the same price bracket.
The ten worst car brands
Down at the bottom of the brand charts, it’s not as rosy for a number of brands.
Smart, owned by Mercedes-Benz and manufacturer of small electric city cars, is comfortably the lowest-rated brand on sale in 2022.
Subaru does poorly in the UK, both in sales numbers and critical reception.
Abarth struggles with what is now a very old product line-up that is basically two go-faster versions of the old Fiat 500.
Next page: All brands ranked from best to worst