For many, a car is simply a tool in which we used to get from A to B in as safely a fashion as possible and in as timely a fashion as possible too. It is nothing that they feel any form of connection with, and thus they almost don't care what it is that they buy. Which in some ways, is quite sad, because a car can often become a companion for life, providing you choose the right one of course.
There are many cars out there to fit our various needs, and we all hope we can get a good lifetime's use of them. The two cars in my family have been going on for 27 and 14 years respectively, and yes they have had minor issues and needed things fixing, but they are still going strong and helping our family along. One is a Honda, one is a Toyota, and they may yet last us another ten years.
Some cars though are not quite as sturdy or reliable as the ones in our family. Some from the last ten years or so have not been able to produce the same kind of performance and reliability that those cars have. Some are just really poorly built and useless. Others are confusing machines, that may not last simply because their real purpose isn't quite clear. Others might be so dull we get bored of them quite easily.
The majority though are just poor machines, and there are plenty of those to read about in this fairly comprehensive list. Some may yet surprise you as well.
22 Fiat 500
I was surprised to find myself adding the Fiat 500 to this list, as even though it ruins the original's image, it’s not exactly the worst car out there. Well, as it turns out, Fiat had a plethora of issues with the reborn 500 when it first launched. Predictably, it is the electrics and powertrain that have given the 500 the worst issues. The odd transmission issue or two have also crept in to blot the 500’s copybook, so it is a far from the ideal first car, which is one many former friends of mine have been given. Again, refinement has fixed these issues, but they really shouldn’t be happening to begin with.
The G-Wiz, or Revai, was an early Indian attempt at making a small electric car, and it proved to be hopelessly unsuccessful. The car famously featured in various Top Gear episodes and was unsurprisingly berated and insulted each time it appeared.
Remarkably, it was at one point the best selling electric vehicle in the world prior to 2009, but anyone with half a brain could see that the G-Wiz was simply not practical for the everyday user, nor was its 50-mile range any good to anyone.
It was of course more for inner-city driving, but the concept was poorly executed and the car looked as flimsy as a soggy cardboard box.
20 Chevrolet Aveo
The Aveo is quite possibly the most dangerous car that features on this list of machines. A couple of hundred people have been injured in Aveo accidents, and this is probably one of the worst cars Chevrolet ever made. In fact, it may yet be the worst that they have made, period. A tacky plastic feel meant you would wonder if any bits of the car would be on after one year, let alone ten, and no one wants to risk their life just to get to the grocery store. The Aveo is also incredibly dull, and there is nothing to get excited about in the slightest. It’s surely a relief to all this car isn’t made. They’ll probably all be extinct soon anyway.
19 Mitsubishi Mirage
It may or may not surprise you to know that the Mitsubishi Mirage is one of the cheapest road cars that you can buy in the United States. That’s not because of its retail price, but because of how bad the car actually is.
Mitsubishi slashed costs when it came to producing the Mirage, and it shows in the awful quality in this car's structure and build.
The G-Wiz probably isn’t much worse off than the Mirage. That tacky feel has given the Mirage a pretty poor reputation, one that you can probably understand. I always say if you value cars you avoid certain ones. The Mirage is one you should avoid.
18 Chevrolet Cobalt/Pontiac G5
The Chevrolet Cobalt, later the Pontiac G5, was aimed at those that were not looking for a hugely expensive, all bells and whistles machine. More so, it was aimed at those that were after something relatively cheap that they could run around in every day. Unfortunately, the Cobalt/G5 was never successful in either iteration. Dodgy power-steering plagued the car throughout its life, and the cheapness really showed in its building materials. Flimsy plastics and cheap metals were used in its construction, and the car often rusted quite easily. There has never been a good time to own a Cobalt and there never will be.
17 2016 Nissan Micra
The Nissan Micra is like the Vauxhall Adam in the sense that there really is nothing very exciting about it. The car has never warranted anything good when it comes to the looks department and has often been described as a joyless drive by those who have driven it.
Not only that, early models had a bizarre and cheap sort of styling to them.
This 2016 edition is no better but has grown in size to look like an older Micra on steroids. The car has very much taken on the ‘small car gone big syndrome’ and not really improved in quality. I think I’d prefer the G-Wiz.
16 Toyota Prius
Now I know what you are going to say. Modern Prius' are good cars, and indeed, they aren’t bad at all. But the whole concept of an eco-friendly hybrid is defeated instantly when you realize how all the components have to be shipped across the world before they all come together. Let us not forget, the original Prius was far from perfect. It was anything but perfect. Awful styling gave it a very cheap look and feel, which thankfully more modern variants have addressed. But I can never bring myself to love the Prius and the older models value has plummeted. Leave them to rot somewhere I say.
15 Volkswagen Amarok
Volkswagens aim with the Amarok was simple: to create an inexpensive European version to the U.S pickup truck, whilst attempting to add a bit more style and class to the range, as opposed to the rather vulgar machines that can occasionally be pumped out by say, Chevrolet or GMC.
Sadly, the Amarok was plagued with several issues.
Not the least was VW failed to make it any smaller than their U.S rivals, the Amarok being quite large. Its steering was also found to be quite unresponsive, and many drivers noticed quite a large rate of body lean when going around corners. This isn’t good on what is quite a tall car, at nearly 2 meters.
14 Nissan NP200
The Nissan NP200 is certainly more subtle than the Amarok and certainly a bit more unusual looking than the VW. But unfortunately, that alone cannot save the NP200 from being any more successful. At the root of the pickup's problems is its structure. The car has been built with cheap materials, so much so it is virtually a pickup truck copy of the Dacia Sandero, which as we know is simply a car for those on a smaller budget, so perhaps not going to be of the quality of a supercar. Not only that, but the steering wheel is set up at an unusually high angle, and has slippery plastic covering it. So much so that driver's hands have slipped off whilst turning the car.
13 City Rover
The City Rover was the last attempt by the Rover company to gain back some credibility in its declining years. It aimed to produce a small city car that the masses could enjoy. I’m sure the company had good intentions, and no doubt they tried hard to let the glory days appear again.
Unfortunately, Rover came nowhere near the glory days as the City Rover proved to be poorly made, underpowered, and one of the worst cars that the company had ever produced.
It was only in production for a couple of years and the company folded not long after.
12 2016 Vauxhall Adam
The Vauxhall Adam has never really been a very awe-inspiring car, and indeed the 2016 model certainly kept the trend going with rather poor looks that could send anyone to sleep. Compared to some models in its range, the Adam isn’t held in high regard, not least because of its name. The Adam features a huge variety of accessory options, so many that Autocar described them as “infinite”, which is never good as you are going to confuse your customer. The Adam is just an underwhelming car with very little to shout about, and whilst it has improved since 2016, it’s not enough to make it worth a purchase.
11 Proton Gen 2
Autocar is quite a fair reviewing magazine and website, so you should probably listen when a car on their site has a one-star review, and that is exactly what the Proton Gen 2 has. Perhaps you shouldn’t expect too much class at under $10,000 but the Gen 2 has a number of issues.
It was equipped impressively but a tacky and very cheap plastic feeling interior put an end to any advantage there.
Not to mention, the car is quite dated looking outwardly as well. An uncomfortable ride and an awkward steering position only add to the list of problems with the Proton.
10 Vauxhall Vectra
The Vectra featured on a list of mine I did before on embarrassing British cars, and…well it hasn’t exactly redeemed itself since I wrote that piece. Vauxhall redeemed themselves a few years later with the VXR, but the Vectra was one of the most boring cars to come from the companies doors. Drab and heavy, the Vectra felt really poor in its early forms and even, later on, it looked cheap and would hardly set the pulses racing. Again, this is another car that you would probably only buy if you had little interest in cars in the first place. I wouldn’t dream of coming near it.
9 Fiat Croma
Not only does the Croma have an uninspiring name, but it also has uninspiring looks. I have certainly better than what Fiat had to offer with this car! Being built by Fiat, you might expect it to be full of the good old Italian passion that we have found in say a Ferrari, or the original Fiat 500.
But there is none of that in the Croma.
It is incredibly drab and dull, nothing in it to inspire even the most easily pleased of minds. That is the biggest issue with that car, and it would be easy to forget the Croma ever existed. I did. It wouldn’t be around in ten years, for not only not being a great car anyway, but because everyone will have forgotten it.
8 Peugeot 1007
This is surely one of the ugliest Peugeot’s I’ve ever seen, one of the worst made, and also one of the most pointless. Pointless because it features sliding doors, which are supposed to be useful for parking in tight spots. That’s fine, but everybody else seems to get by fine without them, and the car itself isn’t exactly the smallest thing in the world. It’s also woefully slow and handles more like a tugboat. It has become a slightly more refined tugboat in its later years, but you still can’t escape the fact it feels like…rubbish. Even if somehow mine lasted ten years, the doors certainly wouldn’t.
7 Perodua Kenari
Not only would you want to avoid a used one of these cars, but you’d probably want to avoid a new one as well.
The Perodua Kenari is not exactly a looker unless you’re one of that rare breed that likes riding around in a big silver box.
You wouldn’t want to accelerate in the Kenari, as you are no doubt going to get an awful amount of wind noise, and you’ll certainly feel the not so efficient aerodynamics slow the car down as you hit the accelerator. If you so much as just care about cars a little bit, don’t buy this thing. Please.
6 Volkswagen Jetta
The Jetta from Volkswagen is, on first glance, quite a trendy looking machine. Then you find out about all the performance issues that have blighted this car since birth. It’s a sports car but was introduced as a family car since the originals stepped off the production line back in 1979. Overall performance is pretty good, and it does have a lot of space with its five seats. But it is just rather confused about what it wants to be and comes with a range of performance upgrades that you wouldn’t expect on a family car. Yet it’s a sports car. But it’s not. That there is the biggest issue with the Jetta. What is it?
5 Chevy Cobalt SS
If you can get one of these to last you ten years then quite frankly, I applaud you. The Cobalt SS is, of course, a sporty version of the rather pitiful Cobalt/Pontiac G5 that we saw earlier.
I explored why this car was bad. Poor design, bad materials, and just not the mass market car it should have been.
The SS barely improves on the performance of the original, if anything the ridiculous spoiler on the back just causes extra drag and slows it down. The Cobalt SS was Chevrolet’s attempt at giving the original Cobalt some class and style. Well, it didn’t work.
4 Saturn Sky
Saturn was not exactly having the easiest of times in the 2000’s and were trying to find ways to revive the companies fortunes and to get them off the ground again. The Sky was their attempt at that, with a compact sports car. The Sky though was a hopeless failure, with some of the worst looks that you could possibly see on a sports car and perhaps one of the worst made as well, it’s styling not much better than the Cobalt SS either. It won’t surprise you to know that the Sky didn’t last long, and those that are left won’t last much longer either.
3 Vauxhall Viva
The new Vauxhall Viva is a revival of the original and very stylish Viva that was introduced back in 1963 and has become quite a desirable classic car in the UK these days. But you wouldn’t know the 2018 model was based on something else, because it looks nothing like it.
Poor styling and a tacky build quality mean a half decent original Viva would easily outlast a modern equivalent, not to mention the modern version wouldn’t gain so much as a quick glance should it been seen on the roads.
If you want a Viva then get the original, and avoid the new one. You don’t want to embarrass yourself.
2 Proton Savvy
You can already tell that things are going wrong when your car has the name ‘Savvy’. The Proton Gen 2 was, of course, a pretty rubbish car. Well, the Savvy isn’t much better, and there isn’t anything Savvy about it. It was the companies first attempt at a compact five-door city car back in 2005, but the interior lacked refinement and the creature comforts you’d want in a little car, to make it a pleasant place to drive in. The gearbox has always had a very sloppy feel to it as if moving it through thick gravy. There is also a worrying knock if you so much as give it the beans. Not to mention it looks like it will fall over if you just look at it.
1 Fiat Stilo
The Fiat Stilo certainly has a lot more going for it than the Croma we looked at a bit earlier. For starters, the Stilo is actually a handsome looking car. Not exciting really but just well rounded. But the Stilo was, as Autocar put it, nothing more than an updated Austin Maestro.
This, of course, does not mean the Stilo was the peak of quality, and indeed it wasn’t.
It lacked a good deal of it and despite good early and mid-early sales figures, the Stilo rather quickly disappeared from prominence. A shame though, because I do quite like how it looked.
Sources: AutoScout, Wikipedia, Motor Trend, Honest John, Consumer Guide, Nissan Eastern Cape