Mitsubishi

The most reliable in Britain is... The 2005-2008 Mitsubishi Lancer.

According to data from the last 15 years provided by Warranty Direct, the Lancer is top of the charts - beating hundreds of other models to the prestigious crown.

Second was the first generation Vauxhall Agila, followed by the 1997-2006 Suzuki Alto in a close third. Fourth is the Toyota Aygo, while the Honda HR-V and 1996-2004 Volvo S40 come joint fifth.

Judging by the results, the old maxim of Japanese models being the most reliable seems to hold true - even if it doesn't appear so at first. The high-acheiving Vauxhall Agila is actually a Suzuki Wagon R in disguise, for example, while the Volvo S40 was built as a joint venture with Mitsubishi.

In fact, just one non-Japanese car sneaks into the top ten: the 2006 Mercedes E-Class. Joint eighth with the Toyota Yaris - not a bad achievement by any means - the E-Class even beats the Honda Jazz, and slots in just behind the Mazda MX-5.

At the other end of the scale, the least reliable models are almost entirely German. The 2002-2011 Audi RS6 performance car makes for the worst performing model, with the 2004-2011 BMW M5 following a close second.

Only the 2002 Range Rover (ninth) and - perhaps unsurprisingly - the Citroen XM (10th) slotted into the surprisingly Germanic list, along with the footballer-special Bentley Continental GT (seventh).

It's the way the list is ranked that plays a part in the results, though - numbers of breakdowns play a part, but the cost of repairs also affect rankings - meaning more complicated, more expensive bits to replace.

"Over the years, we've seen countless new technologies introduced to cars – they are now more complex than ever and, while many innovations are geared towards important considerations, like safety, it also means there is more and more that can go wrong," commented Warranty Direct's Duncan McClure Fisher.

"As an example, the first car we ever covered was an Audi 100 – that was replaced by the A6, which features start/stop technology, an electromechanical parking brake, a park assist system and sensors for tyre pressure, light and rain, to name but a few new gadgets."

It makes sense, then, that the top-ranking cars are also the cheapest to purchase. As for the Mercedes E-Class sneaking in at number eight, though, we're puzzled too...