UK new car owner satisfaction increased in 2002 compared to a year ago, according to the 2002 JD Power survey.

The overall average among all car manufacturers rose seven points from 784 in 2001 to 791 in 2002.

The study also shows that while most manufacturers have improved, large gaps still exist between the top performers and the rest. Lexus sits at the top of the overall manufacturer ranking for the second year running, followed by Toyota, Skoda, BMW and Jaguar.

Renault is the most-improved manufacturer among all those finishing at or above the industry average. Among specific vehicles, the Toyota Yaris is the highest-ranked model, followed by the Lexus IS200, Jaguar XJ-series, Skoda Octavia and BMW 5-series.

"It is clear that the satisfaction of UK motorists is continuing to improve," said Dave Sargent, director of European operations at J.D. Power and Associates.

"It is particularly encouraging to see that, while premium brands such as Lexus, BMW, Jaguar and Audi continue to do very well, less expensive vehicles from manufacturers such as Toyota and Skoda also provide very high levels of owner satisfaction."

The study is based on the evaluations of more than 27,000 owners of 1999 and 2000 'V' and 'W' registration vehicles and covers 33 brands and 144 models.

Owners provide detailed evaluations of their vehicles and dealers, encompassing 77 attributes, which are grouped together into four key measures of satisfaction.

Lexus received the highest ratings for quality and reliability and for vehicle appeal, while Skoda owners were most satisfied with ownership costs. Jaguar led the way for dealer service satisfaction.