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New-vehicle quality in Malaysia has improved by 18% from 2015, according to the J.D. Power 2016 Malaysia Initial Quality Study (IQS). The largest improvement in the 14 year history of the study has also narrowed the gap between national and non-national brands to the smallest it has ever been.

As in the past, the study examines new-vehicle quality during the first two to six months of ownership, and measures more than 200 problem symptoms covering eight vehicle components, these being vehicle exterior, driving experience, features/controls/displays, audio/entertainment/navigation, seats, HVAC, vehicle interior and engine/transmission.

All problems are summarised as the number of problems reported per 100 vehicles (PP100). A lower PP100 score indicates a lower rate of problem incidence and higher performance.

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This year saw an improvement in initial quality across all eight problem categories measured in the study, with engine/ transmission registering the greatest reduction in problems. Vehicle exterior continues to be the category with the most reported problems, a trend that has continued from the beginning of the study in 2003.

Overall initial quality for 2016 was 69 PP100, a far cry from the 259 PP100 registered in 2003. The study added that while the initial quality score for non-national brands is still better at 54 PP100, national brands, with a score of 83 PP100, are closing the gap.

In a span of 14 years, the gap between national and non-national makes has shrunk to just 29 PP100 from 146 PP100. The study added that the year-over-year rate at which national makes are improving outpaces that of non-national makes, at 18% vs. 16%, respectively.

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Interestingly, the study also found that there are particular groups of car owners that experience a higher incidence of problems with their vehicles. For example, men report more problems than women (79 PP100 vs 56 PP100 respectively).

Additionally, owners who usually have four passengers in their vehicle report an average of 73 PP100, compared with 54 PP100 for those who drive their car alone. Owners with more than 10 years of driving experience are also more prone to report problems, compared to those with no more than 10 years of driving experience (85 PP 100 vs 55 PP100 respectively).

As was the case with the 2015 study, the top three most frequently cited problems were ‘excessive wind noise’ (4.6 PP100), followed by ‘air conditioning doesn’t get cold enough and fast enough’ (2.7 PP100) and ‘noisy brakes’ (2.5 PP100). Owners of MPV and vans reported the most problems at 79 PP100, although quality in this segment has improved from 90 PP100 in 2015.

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In terms of specifics, a total of 39 models were examined in the study, and two Toyota models, one Mazda and one Perodua model were ranked highest in their respective segments.

The Toyota Vios ranked highest in the entry midsize segment (48 PP100), while the Toyota Avanza was number one in the MPV/Van segment (52 PP100) for the eighth consecutive year. The Perodua Myvi aced the compact segment (73 PP100), and the Mazda CX-5 was ranked highest in the SUV segment (41 PP100).

The 2016 IQS involved a total of 39 passenger car, pickup and utility vehicle models from 12 brands, and was based on responses from 2,436 new-vehicle owners who purchased their vehicle between August 2015 and June 2016. The study was fielded between February and August this year.