Honda is the car brand with the “best overall brand health”, according to the YouGov 2021 Automotive Rankings for Malaysia survey. With an index score of +37.9, the No.1 non-national car brand in sales is ahead of Japanese compatriot Toyota (+36.1) and perennial market leader Perodua (+33.6).

The rankings are compiled using the YouGov BrandIndex Index score, a measure of overall brand health calculated by taking the average of Impression, Quality, Value, Satisfaction, Recommend and Reputation scores. The survey ran from February 1, 2020 to January 31, 2021.

While Honda came out tops overall, there are three metrics where it was behind other carmakers. Perodua (+44.0) leads perception when it comes to Value (the brand consumers see as the most value-for-money), followed by Toyota (+35.5) and Honda (+35.2). Perodua (+29.6) also beats Honda (+21.5) when it comes to Satisfaction (how satisfied consumers are with the brand).

Click to enlarge

An area where Honda is good, but not top, according to polled Malaysians, is Reputation (which measures the corporate reputation of a brand by asking which brands consumers would be proud of working for). Here, premium brand Mercedes-Benz (+39.3) is slightly ahead of German rival BMW (+38.8), which reclaimed the premium sales lead from Merc last year. Honda comes in third at (+38.1). YouGov says that the brand Malaysians would be least proud to work for is one that was born here – Proton (+14.9). The national carmaker comes in sixth overall with a score of +18.4.

Japanese brands dominate the overall top 10. Away from the podium, there’s Nissan in eighth (+14.4) and Mazda in tenth (+12.9). German brands also fare well with Mercedes-Benz in fourth (+23.4), BMW in fifth (+23.3) and Audi in seventh (+15.9). The only brand that’s not Japanese, Malaysian or German is British SUV marque Range Rover in ninth (+13.2).

YouGov describes itself as an international research and data analytics group with a mission to “supply a continuous stream of accurate data into what the world thinks”. With a “proprietary global panel” of 11 million members, it operates in the UK, Americas, Europe, the Middle East, India and Asia Pacific.

Now, we don’t know much about YouGov’s methodology and neither are we endorsing it, but the list above isn’t hugely surprising. As with most survey results, the “experts” in the field might take exception to the rankings, but enthusiasts might not be seeing things like how “normal people” – who form the real majority of consumers by the way, not car guys – do.

For instance, Honda is the non-national leader in Malaysia, and our market is an anomaly where Honda outsells Toyota, the world’s top selling auto brand. Look around and you’ll also find myths/jokes about male Honda owners being more attractive to the opposite sex. Away from the “VTEC crowd”, from the upper middle class onwards, Honda’s SUVs are urban street furniture (alongside the Mazda CX-5 and more lately, Proton’s X SUVs).

Perodua is another good example. Far from a favourite (to put it lightly) among car guys, but the market leader knows what Malaysians want. Things like handling, refinement and design are topics heavily discussed on forums such as this one, but more “mundane” aspects of motoring such as value/features, reliability and fuel efficiency are things that matter more to carbuyers.

What do you think of this brand survey’s ranking? Agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree or totally disagree? Discuss.