Herald Sun - Motoring - - CARSGUIDE CONFIDENTIAL - Twit­ter: @PaulWardGover

TOY­OTA has the hap­pi­est own­ers in Aus­tralia.

Sur­pris­ingly, Suzuki has given its ri­val this chirpy good news based on its re­search into cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion.

Toy­ota gets a 69 per cent ap­proval rat­ing in Suzuki’s sur­vey, just one point ahead of Suzuki it­self and Hyundai.

It’s hard to get solid in­for­ma­tion on this sub­ject be­cause car com­pa­nies like to keep it to them­selves. They are most wor­ried about look­ing bad but also fear the com­par­i­son power it gives to buy­ers when they go head-to­head shop­ping.

In the US, the JD Power or­gan­i­sa­tion crunches num­bers on all sorts of cus­tomer sat­is­fac­tion and re­li­a­bil­ity sur­veys.

There is no in­de­pen­dent um­pire in Aus­tralia so it’s al­ways handy to come across in­sider in­for­ma­tion like Suzuki’s, which emerged dur­ing the re­cent press preview for the new Vi­tara (pic­tured).

Suzuki gen­eral man­ager An­drew Moore be­gan to spruik the Vi­tara but couldn’t re­sist re­veal­ing sta­tis­tics to show how well buy­ers re­gard his com­pany.

The peck­ing or­der af­ter Toy­ota-Suzuki-Hyundai has Subaru on 66 per cent, then Mazda and — sur­pris­ingly — Skoda on 65.

We can’t give you more de­tail — Moore flicked quickly to his next Pow­er­point slide and was un­will­ing to up­date or fill out the top 10: “That’s in­ter­nal re­search ... There is not a lot of de­tail,” he says. “We do it ev­ery six months and we gen­er­ally have a sam­ple size of a few hun­dred. It varies each time, of course.”

There is very lit­tle off-road ac­tion in the seg­ment, he found. “About 80 per cent of cus­tomers in the com­pact SUV mar­ket are choos­ing twowheel drive. I forecast sales of small SUVs will over­take small hatches in 2017. This tran­si­tion to com­pact SUVs is a global phe­nom­e­non.”

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