Mazda has topped German automotive magazine Auto Bild's 'Quality Report' for the third year in a row, ahead of 24 car brands including second-place Toyota and domestic luxury brands Mercedes and BMW.

First conducted in 2001, the quality report evaluates vehicle brands using seven criteria - endurance tests, car owner surveys (22,795 Auto Bild subscribers), recalls, Germany's TÜV Report, customer complaints made to the magazine, type of warranties and the quality of dealers based on secret service tests.

Germany is Europe's largest new car market with annual sales of around 3m units.

According to Mazda Motors Europe, its quality was evident in all aspects of the survey with especially strong results in categories reflecting long-term quality: on the TÜV Report (for cars that are two and three years old) and on the magazine's 100,000 km endurance test - where the 5 minivan/MPV is currently half-way through with no breakdowns. The 6 - due for a redesign soon - has been ranked first since 2004, being the only car ever to come through with no breakdowns in the magazine report's history.

Mazda also scored high on the owner survey for low repair frequency and high body build quality, which enabled the brand to improve on last year's result.

Results reflecting customer satisfaction and warranty performance were once again very positive, the automaker said in a statement.