James Ruppert: MOT beaters that won’t let you down

I hope you managed to contain your excitement for the announcement of the cars that are least likely to fail their first MOT test. I’m sure that you can guess what most of them are. Anyway, like that test, a freedom of information request doesn’t lie, so just which models should we be looking for – or rather, which country’s products should we be considering first?

Making this all about nationality might seem like a generalisation – until you glance at the top 10 list. Basically, if you want a worry-free motoring life, it pays to buy Japanese.

The strong Lexus showing isn’t surprising, because these are high-quality cars that are bought new only by those who can afford luxury.

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The £35,000 NX SUV comes top of the table, with fewer than 5% of them taken in for their first test failing to pass. A 2015 2.0 F-Sport with 43,000 miles and a few MOTs under its belt could be yours of £18,750. That’s at a dealer for the smaller petrol engine. Fancy a hybrid? Stick with the dealer network and a 2015 300h Premier, so that you get all the usual reversing camera, Bluetooth and leather nonsense. Most of all, though, what you get is a 4.4% first-test failure rate.

Another Lexus comes in at number five, with a 6.6% failure rate: the CT family hatchback. I was tempted by a 2011 200h SE with 200,000 miles at £3995, but it’s better to choose a dealer car. A 34,000-mile 2016 200h Sport will set you back £13,250.

The Honda Jazz is in at number two with a 5.9% failure rate, and in third is the Mazda MX-5, with a 6.5% failure rate. Perhaps that’s because both these have a mature ownership profile, who can more than afford to service and maintain them properly.

An MX-5 is much more interesting than a Jazz. I really like the folding-hard-top RF, and there are a lot of little-used examples around. I would jump at a 2017 2.0 Skyactiv-G Launch Edition with Recaro seats and just under 4000 miles for £20,500.

Although Volkswagen languished near the bottom of the first-test failure league, some German marques and models managed to hold their own. The Porsche Macan, Audi Q2 and Mercedes-Benz S-Class came sixth, eighth and ninth. None is a bargain, mind, with the SUVs in demand and the previous-generation limousine becoming irrelevant.



Question: My 2014 Volkswagen Passat Estate’s rear wiper wash leaks into the boot and causes its alarm to go off. Why hasn’t there been a recall to fix this? Nicholas Loveland, via email

Answer: It is likely that the alarm is being triggered by an electrical cable getting wet, caused by the leak. The problem is probably not common enough to force a model recall in the same vein as the starter-motor fire-risk recall of a few years ago, so contact your local dealership for support, or there are several online tutorials that might help you replace the dodgy component. In the meantime, try locating the wire and shielding it from the drip. JW