What’s the point of the Which? Car annual survey? The uninitiated may not truly comprehend its value. But as the owner of an ‘eccentric’ French car, I can vouch for the accuracy of its reliability and satisfaction stats…
Just over three years ago I bought a new Renault Modus mini MPV, which, under its small, shapely body is essentially the same car as the Nissan Note.
In its youth the Modus was a Which? Best Buy – in part because its reliability was reasonable and owner satisfaction was high.
Warranty ends, problems begin
After three years of near faultless behaviour, I was understandably a bit sceptical about our survey stats that predicted my car would soon be beset by a plethora of electrical woes, ensuring it aged disgracefully.
But, exactly a month after the three-year warranty expired, the headlights began to sporadically turn themselves on as I drove over potholes or braked hard. I started to feel a little uneasy, but didn’t worry too much as a flick on the light flasher stalk turned them off.
Then the steering wheel stalk began to play up. When I pushed it down to operate the windscreen wipers, they wouldn’t always spring into life.
And the problem has escalated. Now my idiosyncratic little French motor won’t clear water from the screen unless I use the stalk opposite the one for the wipers and indicate left, and then won’t cease scraping the glass till I indicate right. And it seems to have developed a phobia about being seen, as the headlights are now on permanently.
When I spoke to my local Renault dealer, he didn’t seem surprised at the car’s erratic behaviour and told me with a shrug that, as the Modus is out of warranty, I’ll have to pay up. However, I really don’t think these kind of electrical gremlins are acceptable on a newish, £10k-plus car.
Surveying the car lot
Needless to say, I’m a lot less satisfied with the Modus now than I was this time last year. And it seems I’m not the only one to be falling out of love with it; in the 2011 survey – answered by 52,563 people – it achieved a lowly owner satisfaction score of 71%. Have you had a similar experience to me?