One of the most closely watched quality indicators in Europe and especially in Germany is the annual TÜV-Report. With German thoroughness, the report tells exactly which cars were naughty or nice. It’s the law: Three years after you buy a new car in Germany, it must be inspected by the Technischer Überwachungsverein. Thereafter, every two years. This is not your run-of-the-mill drive-to-the-gas-station-get-a-sticker exercise. At the TÜV, each car undergoes a thorough and invasive physical. Fail the physical, and it’s back to the shop. Fail again: No inspection sticker, get that POS off the road. No wonder that a date with the TÜV is considered as even less attractive than a meeting with the proctologist. One out of 5 cars fail the test on the first attempt.
Once a year, the TÜV compiles its TÜV-Report, using the actual results of the check. This is no J.D.Power CSI. This is the real world, a report compiled with screwdrivers, flashlights, emission probes, brake testers. Executives at automakers await the report with high anxiety. Bad positions on the list can be career-ending.
The TÜV-Report 2012 will be published on December 16. Some results are already dribbling out, but the list itself remains under wraps. We twisted some arms and finagled an advance copy (your Teutonic old boys network at work.) Let’s see who will be promoted and who should polish his resume.
7,779,312 million cars were inspected between July 2010 and June 2011. We focus on two groups of cars: New cars, which are checked after 3 years. And, as the super long term testers, 10-11 year old cars. We will only show you the nicest and the naughtiest to avoid data overload. The percentage number means how many of the cars tested failed and were sent back to the shop. Lower is better.
TÜV-Report 2011, 3 year old cars
|4||VW GOLF PLUS||2.8%|
|7||TOYOTA COROLLA VERSO||3.1%|
|119||ALFA ROMEO 159||9.4%|
|123||HYUNDAI SANTA FE||10.1%|
If you own a newish Toyota Prius, the TÜV test won’t scare you. For the second time in a row, the Prius takes the top spot. Says Auto Bild:
“Especially impressive: The complex hybrid technology of the Toyota Prius works perfectly. In second place, also a Toyota: The Auris usually masters the first TÜV check without fail.”
Interesting: The Top 10 look like a remake of the axis, with the Italians AWOL: Six out of the ten best are Japanese, the remaining four are German. If you are looking for the axis partner gone AWOL, check the bottom of the list.
TÜV-Report 2011, 10-11 year old cars
|68||ALFA ROMEO 156||34.4%|
Now for the oldies. Which ones don’t show their age? The Porsche 911 leads the Top 10 of the seniors (with the usual Japanese/German mix).
The Porsche 911 also takes top billing in 6-7 years and 8-9 years. No wonder, it is usually babied and serviced by mechanics with white gloves. Don’t just assume it will hold up forever. Spoil the car like an elegant lady, and she will win the biannual beauty contest.
And which car is the worst you ask? Let’s quote Auto-Bild on that contentious topic:
“The loser in all classes is the Ford Ka. No car has a higher number of serious faults. 38,9 percent of Ka cars between 10 and 11 years leave the TÜV without the sticker. For the third time in a row, the catastrophe-Ford is last on the list.”
For data nerds: Look at the godawful showing of the Volkswagen Sharan, the Seat Alhambra, and the Ford Galaxy. Same car. The first generation (tested here) were all made in the Ford/VW joint venture plant in Palmela.