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Fun-seeking car-buyers take note: some cars may not seem fun to drive, but owners can attest they are

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, January – December 2015, sample n = 13,217 Australian current or intending drivers 14+

More than one in five Australians planning to buy a new car say they will only buy one that is fun to own, Roy Morgan Research shows. But the make of car these fun-seeking buyers are most likely to say seems fun isn’t the one with the most fun-having current owners behind the wheel.

In 2015, 22% of Australia’s 2.3 million New Car Intenders (within the next four years) agreed, “I will only buy a car that is fun to own” – that’s almost 500,000 buyers in the market for an entertaining, enjoyable vehicle. Among them, more agree BMW “makes vehicles that are fun to drive” (35%) than any other marque out of 17 presented. Audi is second, rated as fun by 32% of fun-seeking buyers, followed by Volkswagen (27%) and Subaru (24%), Mercedes Benz (22%) and Toyota (21%). 

At the other end, just 5% of new car intenders—for whom fun is vital—think Mitsubishi, Peugeot or Skoda would deliver that fun factor, with the fewest citing Hyundai (4%) or Kia (2%).     

For these would-be drivers, of course, how fun these cars are to drive could be all a matter of perception. When it comes down to real first-hand, on-road experiences, the car whose current drivers are most likely to be having fun behind the wheel is… Volkswagen! 46% of all VW drivers agree the make is fun to drive (a 70% increase), followed by 44% of Subaru drivers (83% increase) and 41% of Audi drivers (28% increase).

Car Makes that buyers and owners say are fun to drive

Source: Roy Morgan Single Source Australia, January – December 2015, sample n = 13,217 Australian current or intending drivers 14+

The general perception of BMW’s fun-ness among buyers is pretty close to the experience among owners (40%, just 14% higher). However a few makes in particular seem to be severely misunderstood: while just one in 20 fun-seeking buyers think that driving a Peugeot would be fun, 35% of their drivers can attest it is—so a rate seven times higher than among buyers. Skoda also improves dramatically among owners, with 33% of them having fun compared with the 5% of fun-seeking buyers.  

Renault’s fun quotient also appears to be underestimated by the car-buying public: 8%, compared with the 32% of actual drivers enjoying themselves (four times higher), just ahead of Toyota (30%, a 43% increase).    

Kia owners, meanwhile, remain among the least likely to say the make is fun to drive (15%)—but this is nevertheless over seven times higher than the rate among car buyers—the greatest proportional discrepancy between perception and experience.  

Jordan Pakes, Automotive Industry Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Roy Morgan’s Single Source automotive research methodology allows manufacturers, advertisers and dealers to cross-reference a whole suite of car image attributes against the equivalent attitudes and desires of current owners, recent purchasers, and – most importantly – imminent new car buyers.

“The perception of brands in the market vs the reality among owners is often quite different and it’s up to marketers to determine the best way to communicate the brand’s strengths to potential buyers. Peugeot is a great example of a brand that is above the market average on the ‘fun to drive scale’ as rated by its owners but is perceived quite differently in the market.

“When also investigated alongside things like model and segment intention and consideration, ad recall, and the psychographic profiling tool Helix Personas, makers can better understand and track their place in the market among key audiences.”

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About Roy Morgan

Roy Morgan is the largest independent Australian research company, with offices throughout Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the United States and the United Kingdom. A full service research organisation specialising in omnibus and syndicated data, Roy Morgan has over 70 years’ experience in collecting objective, independent information on consumers.

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size

Percentage Estimate


25% or 75%

10% or 90%

5% or 95%