Interesting. I must have one of the good 'uns... touch wood.
...and I am touching an enormous plank of something that at least pretends to be wood right now.
Got a late 99/early 2000 (even the DVLA is unsure) Megane, bought as a hurried replacement for a written-off (and similarly brick-sh*thouse-esque) Astra - I was a beggar and as such couldn't afford to be too choosy. Needed something with a similar level of performance, space, and options, and it was one of a few available cars in early january that fit the bill. And in fact I lucked out - paid a grand (of which £250 was excess), and got something with additional toys to my old barge, and a serious case of Chillis Up The Backside which I only discovered after buying it (the low down torque is still alright... but it really comes alive at the top end!)
Given the Meg's awful rep, this one must have been a mid-morning tuesday job, because thus far - after 53 weeks - it's been fine, even after someone caved in the front left wing. Following that, and some bastard breaking in thru the side window.... without any repairs being done save swapping the buckled alloy for the fullsize steel spare and touching up the paint.... and maintenance extending to the odd wash and a DIY oil 'n' filters change after the first couple thousand miles, I've had no trouble. Sailed through its MOT in november barely touching the sides - got an advisory for the "mismatched" wheel of all things. As it's now fully worked off the asking price with massive interest on top, I think I may treat it to a cambelt change and proper 80k mile service (at 84000ish)....
* cue cambelt snapping on the way home :-p *
OK, not everything's perfect, the air recirculation flap suffers a common, noisy fault, the radio reception is bobbins, there's clearly a worn bearing and/or lack of effective low-temperature lubrication on the gearbox input shaft as it honks like a stabbed goose if you try to start in 2nd from cold (doing that a lot in this weather), a couple times the airbag circuit threw a fault on the ECU during the worst of the weather, there's a filled chip in the screen, the brakes do have an occasional suggestion of "oh, you wanted to stop did you? hmmmm I'll think about it ..... oh wait only kidding", and the bulbs blow with alarming regularity (since the cold set in I've lost a headlamp and a tail lamp that I couldn't be arsed to sort until the thaw started - so that's a task for the weekend)................
......... but given the absolute ball ache that was my first car - a VW Polo - I'm prepared to overlook all that. Stuff kept literally falling off that (though to it's credit I was never absolutely stranded... having to crawl home at 15mph is still better than being stopped), and out of 3 years of MOTing I think it passed first time ONCE. Between it and the Beemers & Mercs my dad had during a flush period (and gave up on well before getting poor again), Polos owned by friends and my ma's Fabia, the rep of german makes is well dented in my mind.
Mind you these stats can be decieving. 28% or whatever failing still means that more than 2/3rds are making it through - first time. Which is a pretty good rate when you consider the age, how cars are treated, and the innumerate things you can fail for. Sort of like panning the guy who comes 20th in a Grand Prix, until you realise he's only a few TENTHS of a second slower per lap than the winner, AND didn't crash out...
Japanese? Meh. Give us the french and anglo-american-germanic-hybrid stuff any day.
BTW, I haven't given it a good read yet, how did the Fords do? I'm predicting epic fail for final-generation Escorts (of the age of my unburstable Vaux ;)