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New Ford Falcon becomes first Aussie-made car to score top five-star crash rating
6 Aug 2008
IT’S OFFICIAL: Ford’s new Falcon has become the first Australian-built car to be awarded a maximum five-star crash test safety result from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
Ford Australia, in conjunction with Australia’s peak independent crash test safety body, announced the news today – two days after it was revealed by News Limited newspapers.
ANCAP said it tested Ford’s entry-level petrol Falcon XT sedan, which performed well in the frontal offset, side impact and optional pole tests, providing strong protection for all vehicle occupants.
ANCAP chairman Lauchlan McIntosh congratulated Ford on the result, which he described as a significant milestone for an Australian-made car, but said ANCAP was disappointed the five-star rating did not apply to the LPG version, which instead scored four stars, because it is not available with electronic stability control (ESC).
“The Ford Falcon now leads the pack in safety for the large Australian-made family car – ANCAP has high expectations that this achievement will encourage other manufacturers to build five-star cars,” said Mr McIntosh.
The ANCAP chair said there was room for improvement when it cam to the FG Falcon’s pedestrian safety, which scored a two-point rating (out of four) from ANCAP.
“This is an improvement on the previous Falcon, but there is still plenty of room for improving pedestrian protection,” Mr McIntosh said.
The petrol FG Falcon sedan’s crash test score of 34.6 points (out of a possible 37 points) is the highest score ever recorded by a locally-produced car in Australia by a significant margin.
It places the new Falcon in the top seven per cent of all published ANCAP results - as well as in the top 24 per cent of published ANCAP five-star results.
Ford says the five-star Falcon’s score also puts its all-new large-car ahead of “many significantly higher-priced, premium European vehicles with established reputations for world-class safety”.
The benchmark safety ranking is likely to be regarded by Ford as vindication for the criticism its redesigned large sedan received at its April launch for not matching direct rivals in Holden’s Commodore and Toyota’s Aurion by fitting side curtain airbags as standard at base level.
Officially, Ford had said the new FG was designed to achieve maximum internal and external crash test results, but company officials have stopped short of predicting a five-star ANCAP outcome on the record.
“If we believed we needed to do it (fit side curtains as standard) then we would have made them standard,” said Ford Australia vice-president of product development Trevor Worthington in April.
“Vehicle structure is what delivers the best crash outcomes. We have invested heavily in basic vehicle structure, rather than simply adding curtain airbags. We welcome independent crash testing of the FG,” said Mr Worthington.
In addition to twin front and front-side airbags, all Commodore and Aurion variants come standard with front and rear passenger-protecting side curtain airbags, a running change Holden made to its VE sedan prior to the Falcon’s launch.
At the time the Commodore was tested by ANCAP it was not eligible to take part in the pole test, which is a pre-requisite to scoring five stars, because it was not fitted as standard with curtain airbags. Toyota chose not to put its Aurion through the pole test.
The cheapest Falcon sedan offers only four airbags, including twin front and front-side airbags, with the latter also providing front head protection.
Curtain airbags are standard in the Falcon G6E and G6E Turbo, bringing the total number of airbags to six, but providing head protection for rear passengers in all other models remains a $300 option.
A curtain airbag-equipped Falcon XT still undercuts the similarly-specified Commodore Omega on price, and Ford says it would be unfair to make buyers, which at base model level consist predominantly of fleet customers, pay extra for a safety device that would be redundant for 90 per cent of the time.
“The petrol FG Falcon sedan range has been judged by ANCAP as being the safety leader amongst locally-manufactured vehicles, cementing Ford's long standing reputation for safety leadership in Australia,” said Ford Australia president Bill Osborne.
“We design our cars to deliver real-world safety benefits for our customers. This result is a resounding third party endorsement of the extensive safety development program undertaken for the all-new FG Falcon.
“Not only is the FG Falcon the safest vehicle ever produced in this country, it is also competitive with the safest sedans in the world.
“These safety test results add further validation to the extensive crash simulation process and physical crash test program conducted by Ford Australia for the FG Falcon, which was the most comprehensive in the company's history,” said Mr Osborne.
Ford said more than 38 different vehicle crash modes were investigated during the course of the vehicle's development, with 426 full vehicle-representative physical crash tests and more than 5000 simulated crash tests completed.
Ford said the petrol FG Falcon sedan scored maximum points in two of the three physical crash tests performed by ANCAP, setting a new standard in vehicle safety for a locally-manufactured family car.
In addition to scoring at least 32.5 points overall (including from the pole impact test and seatbelt reminders), in order to be awarded a maximum five-star rating, a vehicle must achieve a minimum score of 12.5 points in both the offset frontal test and the side impact test, as well as score at least one point in the pole test and be fitted with an ESC system.
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