I have some more reliability stats for you. I’m not entirely sure how dependable they actually are, but it is all based on Google searches, which is what passes for research these days. Anyway, I am indebted to the good people at Scrap Car Comparison, who Googled breakdown-, fault- and repair-related phrases for almost 500 different car models. This was then cross-referenced with the sales figures for each model.
Apparently, the BMW 1 Series is the absolute worst because there are 31k searches for faults, giving a sales-weighted score of 30.6. (The higher the score, the worse it is.) But should that put us off? I rather like the little big-engined 1 Series, which harks back to the spirit of the 02 and early 3 Series era. A 2009 3.0-litre 125i M Sport just about to tip over to a six-figure mileage and with three previous owners is £6999 at a dealer. I’d take a chance on that. Indeed, these are great value and I got distracted by a 2006 125i with less funky 17in alloys and 88,000 miles at £5400. They seem like fun, the Mk1s. Maybe the more recent ones have more complicated issues, hence the searches.
At the other end of the chart is the Peugeot 3008 with just 2310 searches for problems for a sales-weighted score of a 2.56. That makes it fairly good by internet search standards. Certainly, these have been pretty popular as a family buy and quite the bargain. A 2015 petrol 1.2 Pure Tech Access with 50,000 miles is yours for a reasonable £5500. That’s for a two-owner example at a dealer with a warranty and £30-a-year road tax. There are some big-mile diesel ones around, so if you are happy with an HDi 3008, which will deliver around 70mpg overall and cost £20 to tax, a 2014 1.6 Allure with just over 70k miles and two owners is £5995.
Just in case you wondered, the worst overall manufacturer according to this survey turns out to be Vauxhall, which seems a shame, but there are an awful lot of Vauxhalls about and parts are relatively cheap and easy to track down. I’d be inclined to go cheap and cheerful. The Astra Sport Hatch is a pretty stumpy and interesting coupé, with a 2008 1.8 16v Sport – no turbo to go wrong, 100,000 miles and fully Low Emission Zone compliant – £1500. Bargain. Even if you have to search online for some parts to make it better.