Is build quality a subjective term based on individuals view? We have seen in numerous occasion in this forum saying that Punto / Linea has greater build quality than any other cars in their respective segments. How this can be justified? Or is there any tests which says that car A has better build quality than car B.
I am not trying to compare build quality of Punto/Linea with others but would like to understand the term "build quality"
Yamaha Rx135 - Grande Punto 1.3 MJD Emotion Pack - Alto Lxi BIII (Sold)
Quality of plastics used for inner panels/dash boards/steering column/instrument cluster. A given Car is said to have better interior build quality, if the plastics used are hard wearing, durable and good to touch.
The panel gaps inside. Gaps should be minimum and even. there should be uniform tolerances.
The panel gaps outside. Example, the shut lines of the doors, boot, bonnet, fuel cap etc. the gaps between two metal sheets. All should be uniform and even to be termed as better built.
The metal gauge and the quality. Cars with flimsy metal sheets (can be depressed with a light force) is not considered as better built.
Proper sound and water insulation for the cabin.
quality of rubber beadings and felt used for insulation.
Quality of paint.
Finishing Details (Joints/welds etc.)
These are the major things which define the quality. Yet the term "quality" dosent mean a uniform standard. Built quality depends on the segment the car is put or the price it has. For an example Maruti 800 will look poorly built in comparison to Honda Jazz or VW Polo. But these address different segments and different buyers, so the build quality of a 800 cant be compared to the Polo or Jazz. Although the BQ of a ford endeavor can be compared to toyota fortuner, as they target same customers and have the same price range.
just a small example, when you close the door, you will feel the sound and if that is solid, for sure the build quality is good. Also, as mentioned by Giri, the sound inside the cabin. I've i10 and I drive my friend's estilo sometimes. Estilo has more much noise inside the cabin than i10. Interesting though that the noise difference from outside is negligible.
Be aware that the term "build quality" has different meanings in different countries. If you see the term on the internet make sure to note what country the web site is from.
Indians seem to include fators like a quality feel or the thickness of metal in the concept of build quality. Solid feeling doors and other parts, nice feel to interiors, etc. count. Not all countries define it this way. For example, Americans don't consider those things when talking about build quality. Those are just "quality" without the word "build" attached. Build quality is more specific, and means how well was it put together. It's all about initial defects and things like panels being out of alignment. By the American definition a cheap, low quality, flimsy car can have excellent build quality and a Mercedes-Benz can have awful build quality.
That actually happened for a couple years after Mercedes opened its first factory in the US in the 1990s. The factory was building M Class SUVs, and they were the most troublesome defect laden cars available in the US at the time. The troubles got sorted out in a couple of years. I suspect it was just startup problems with a new factory in a country where M-B had never built cars before.