A fifth of cars registered in 2008 failed their first MOT, with testers most likely to fail cars from French firms Renault, Citroen and Peugeot.
The worst performing family car was the Renault Megane, with only 71 per cent of cars registered in 2008 passing their first MOT test.
The British-built MINI One came second from last, with 25 per cent of these vehicles registered in 2008 failing their first test.
The car with the highest MOT pass rate was the Suzuki Splash at 90 per cent.
The results come from the analysis of tens of millions of records obtained from the Vehicle Operator and Services Agency (VOSA).
Between 1 October 2010 and 30 September 2011 a total of 352,000 cars – equalling one in five - failed their first MOT with European manufacturers performing worst.
Bottom 10 pass rates by manufacturer
1. Renault 76%
2. Mini 76%
3. Citroen 76%
4. Chevrolet 76%
5. Peugeot 77%
6. Fiat 77%
7. Volvo 78%
8. Vauxhall 79%
9. Mitsubishi 79%
10. Jaguar 79%
Most common reasons for failure
The most common reasons for failure were lighting and signalling problems, which affected 164,837 cars, followed closely by tyre concerns, which accounted for 96,760 failures.
Headlight aim and issues with the driver’s view of the road also contributed significantly to the number of failures.
According to the report, a surprise addition to the bottom 10 list, given that their cars are traditionally a byword for durability, is Volvo.
More than 5,800 of the Swedish manufacturer’s 26,000 2008-registered cars failed their first MOT.
By contrast, Japanese manufacturers produced some of the best-performing cars with the top three most likely to pass their MOT first time being the Lexus, Suzuki and Honda.
Consumers better informed
Daniel Harrison, editor of honestjohn.co.uk, which analysed the data, said: “This is information that has been kept from car owners for many years.
“It’s the first time that this information has been made available in this detail, and in a format that makes it easy to access.
“Families using the data will be better able to keep control over the cost of motoring.”
Top 10 pass rates by manufacturer
1. Lexus 88%
2. Suzuki 86%
3. Honda 85%
4. Saab 84%
5. Toyota 83%
6. Audi 83%
7. Smart 83%
8. Mercedes Benz 83%
9. Landrover 82%
10. SEAT 81%