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Dancing with the stars

Downgrade dilemma: The Ford Courier has gone from three to two stars.

Latest ANCAP results downgrade Ford Courier crash rating

29 Mar 2006

FORD'S Courier utility has received a dismal two-star rating in the latest round of Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) crash testing, one star less than when the same vehicle was tested in 2002.

Details of the latest ANCAP tests – which cover seven light-commercial vehicles – were due to be released today by Australian motoring authorities, including the RACV, NRMA and the Australian Automobile Association (AAA), but have now been delayed until next week.

Ford Australia was believed to be angry at the result but pleased with an ANCAP response to qualify its rating system.

Although unable to confirm the result with motoring organisations representing ANCAP, GoAuto has learnt that Ford Australia has asked that information pertaining to the Courier test acknowledge a change in the ANCAP testing methodology that reduced the Courier’s score from its previous three stars recorded in the last round of utility testing done in 2002.

In a statement released last night, NCAP said: "One of the vehicles was tested under a slightly different protocol than the others. To ensure the ANCAP testing is unquestioned in its procedures and results, it was felt better to delay the release of the results to ensure consistency in terms of the protocols and procedures."It is unclear whether this relates to the Courier or another vehicle, as GoAuto sources indicate that Holden, which is understood to have had its Rodeo one-tonner and Commodore ute tested, has also voiced concern over the crash-test regime.

GM Holden spokesman Jason Laird said the company would await the official ANCAP release before commenting on any specific results related to its vehicles.

AAA executive director Lauchlan McIntosh denied there was a problem with ANCAP’s utility testing. "It’s only a matter of getting the tables right," he said.

27 center imageLeft: Three stars: Mazda Bravo/Ford Courier in 2002.

Ford will release a new-generation Courier later this year, which also begs the question why the current vehicle has been tested at all when a new one is just around the corner.

It is the latest complaint about the organisation’s crash-testing methodology. General Motors arm Chevrolet recently criticised Euro NCAP procedures (which mirror ANCAP) that handed the Aveo sedan – sold as the Holden Barina in Australia – a poor two-star rating. Holden was also critical of the procedure, disagreeing with the methodology, which it claims is inconsistent with its own crash-test results.

Independent crash tests have long been criticised by car companies, which offer a range of arguments against the regime such as unfair testing protocols and results that do not correlate with their own (confidential) in-house testing.

Light-commercial vehicles are significant players in the Australian new-car market, accounting for almost 15 per cent of overall sales.

In the 2002 ANCAP test results on utes, the Holden Commodore VUII ute and Ford Falcon AUII ute, equipped with driver’s airbags, performed well, achieving a "good" rating of four stars. The previous-generation Rodeo and HiLux, along with the Mazda Bravo/Ford Courier twins, managed three stars.

After the Aveo test, Euro NCAP singled out the car as having what it described as "the unacceptably high risk of life-threatening injury to the driver’s chest". As a result, the car’s final result was struck through.

GM Daewoo Auto & Technology is understood to have asked for the Aveo to be retested by Euro NCAP.

Euro NCAP insists on a minimum level of performance in each of the frontal and side impacts, which the Aveo did not meet.

ANCAP will follow-up its utility assessments with crash-tests of large 4WDs, including Ford’s Territory, the results of which are due out in June.

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