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Mocked Skoda drives off rivals to top car poll

Skoda, once seen as a motoring figure of fun, has been named best car manufacturer in a major survey by Which? Car magazine.

The Czech company's fortunes have revived since its takeover by Germany's Volkswagen and today it pushed Lexus into second place, with Mazda third.

The survey, involving more than 64,000 Which? members and more than 66,000 cars up to eight years old, showed that, of sports cars, Porsche topped the customer satisfaction table.

Second was Daihatsu, with Lexus third. MG was at the bottom of the sports-car satisfaction table being rated as "poor" along with Opel, Peugeot, Chrysler and Renault.

Topping the satisfaction table for an individual model was the Honda Accord, followed by the Honda S200 and the Mazda MX-5. The Honda Accord scored 97pc in this category in contrast to the cars at the bottom of the satisfaction table, with the Renault Laguna scoring only 51pc and the Renault Espace last of all with just 48pc.

The Kia Pacinto topped the table for new-car reliability (0-3 years) in the supermini sector, with the Seat Ibiza bottom of the list. The Mazda 3 was considered the best medium car for new-car reliability with the Nissan Qashqai bottom.

In the large car sector, the most-reliable was the Honda Insight, with the Ford Mondeo bottom of this particular table.

The most-reliable luxury car was the Mercedes-Benz E-class, with the Volkswagen Golf Plus the best in the multi-purpose vehicle sector; the Toyota RAV4 the most reliable 4x4 or sports utility vehicle; and the Mercedes-Benz SLK named the best sports car.

In the manufacturers' reliability section of the survey, Daihatsu, with a score of 86.8pc was top of the table, with Land Rover last on 67.5pc.

Despite recent adverse publicity, Toyota's luxury arm -- Lexus -- topped the best-dealership table, with MG bottom.

Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said: "Some small cars, particularly Korean and Japanese superminis, run like clockwork. Whereas some bigger cars, which you might expect to be more robust, aren't all they're cracked up to be."

See motoring, Page 51