Asian vs European cars: which cars come out best in the test?

At first was the Japanese, then the South Koreans, and now there are the Chinese: Europe and Africa are flooded with car brands from the Far East. Which among the cars come out best in the test?

Some swear by them. Others prefer to stay far away from these cars, which they say would never reach European standards. What is really the point?


Every February, data analyst JD Power throws online the results of its major reliability study. The American company examines the number of problems per 100 cars. A large-scale survey where the Japanese brands are invariably among the better of the class.

This year, Lexus was in 1st place, Kia and Toyota in 3rd and 4th, and with Hyundai, Genesis (Hyundai’s luxury subsidiary, coming soon to Europe), and Acura (a sub-brand of Honda for the US market) in 7th, 8th and 10th places, the top ten colors quite Asian.

In comparison, BMW scores only just above average, and Audi and Mercedes come in just below. By the way, the European brand that nestles among the Japanese at the top of the list is Porsche.


Here, we can be quite concise: Asian cars are subjected to the same safety tests as European ones and must comply with them to be sold in Europe and Africa. They often score high points on these tests.

EuroNCAP, the official safety testing body, has already awarded the maximum score of five stars to the Subaru Outback, the Genesis GV80, and the Toyota Mirai. Even Chinese cars, which have long had an image problem when it comes to safety, have earned five stars with the Polestar 2 and the Lynk & Co 01, among others.

Resale value

When buying their car, some people also take into account the so-called residual value, the amount for which you can sell your car on the used market. The more stable your car is, the more interesting it is to buy because you get more of your initial investment back.

Most studies show that sports cars such as Porsches retain their value best. Of course, you might say, since they are rarer and automatically more expensive due to the law of supply and demand. This is followed by mostly European cars, such as the Volkswagen Golf, which seem just barely to catch up to the Asians.

Of course, there are a few exceptions: the Toyota Corolla, one of the most popular cars in the world, is quite stable in value, as is the Yaris GR, a sports version of the city car that is even more expensive on the used market due to its limited edition.

Technology and innovation

The electric wind that blows in Europe, they also feel in Asia. After all, when European manufacturers like BMW and Renault started producing their i3 and ZOE, they were already screwing together the Nissan LEAF in Japan.

Whoever says self-charging hybrid even thinks of a Toyota Prius rather than a European car. Only the “plug-in hybrid” story is somewhat more challenging to get going in Asia, while European cars – traditionally slightly more robust in the B2B market, where this type of car receives tax incentives – score more on this. On the other hand, the Toyota Mirai and Hyundai Nexo, the two hydrogen cars, come from the Far East.


Asian cars are generally just as good as European cars when you look at the objective criteria. Of course, ‘driving pleasure’, ‘ergonomics’ and ‘design’ also play their role, but investigating something like that is, of course, quite tricky. Our advice? Compare, test, and give all brands within your budget a chance, so you make the right choice. After all, there are many active car brands.

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