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Two-star rating won’t affect Mustang appeal: Ford

Party crashed: Ford’s Mustang has been awarded just a two-star crash safety rating from ANCAP, but new driver assistance technologies in next year’s facelifted model should address some concerns.

Lack of safety tech, poor child safety drags Ford Mustang ANCAP score to two stars

Ford logo25 Jan 2017

FORD’S fan-favourite Mustang muscle car has been slammed by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) for poor safety, having been handed a measly two-star crash rating, but the Blue Oval is not perturbed by the below average result.

The safety-test outcome, which stemmed from European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) crash examinations, is a result of four different collision scenarios that saw the Mustang scored on adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, safety assist systems and pedestrian protection.

Of the four categories, the Mustang scored poorest in the safety assist category, tallying just two points out of a possible 12 for having driver and front passenger seat-belt reminders.

It lost points for not offering any speed assistance systems such as a speed limiter, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), rear-seat seat-belt reminders and lane-keep assist technology.

The sold-out Pony car was also deemed to have inadequate child occupant protection, scoring only 15.81 out of a possible 49 points in the category, with the ANCAP report stating that in the event of a full-width frontal crash that “the rear passenger was not well protected with a risk of serious head, chest and leg injury”.

However, the Mustang performed strongly in the adult occupant protection test (27.66 out of 38 points) and scored highly in the pedestrian protection rating (27 out of 42 points), achieving four and five stars in each respective category.

The Ford Mustang is also one of the first vehicles to be tested in 2017 as ANCAP moves to align itself closer to the international safety standards set by Euro NCAP, which will see five stars awarded only if vehicles are equipped with various new safety and crash avoidance technologies.

Ford Australia product communications manager Damion Smy said it was these updates to guidelines that saw the now two-year-old Mustang score poorly in crash testing.

“The areas where the Mustang didn’t do as well were things like the driver assist technology, which obviously the rules and protocols have changed for 2017,” he said.

“Obviously when this car was developed there were different protocols, and when you look at other vehicles (in the same sportscar class) that have been tested – none of them have been tested for these protocols yet.” The as-tested sixth-generation Mustang has been on sale in the United States since 2014, when it was crashed tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and awarded an overall five-star safety rating with maximum marks for the frontal crash test, side crash test and rollover crash test.

However, ANCAP chief executive officer James Goodwin slammed Ford for its poor crash performance, calling the result “simply shocking for such a newly designed and popular model”.

“There’s strong consumer expectation that a new vehicle will be five stars and a sportscar is no different – safety should never be compromised,” he said.

“This rating is not intended to shock or surprise – it simply presents the safety of this car against that of its contemporary competitors.

“I would encourage Ford to swiftly introduce design and production changes to improve its safety performance.” Last week, Ford announced plans to bring new safety technologies to its facelifted 2018 Mustang, including AEB and lane-keep assist which is expected to raise next year’s model’s crash-safety score.

Mr Smy said the brand did not bring these new features to market as a reaction to the safety score, but had always planned the inclusion of the new technologies as part of the model’s natural lifecycle and evolution.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the result, but safety is a priority at Ford,” he said. “We’re not shying away from crash testing and safety is massive for our brand.

“These sorts of technologies are available across the Ford range in other models, so AEB is available in Focus, Escape, Mondeo and naturally, tech features like that proliferate across the range.

“Customer demand in the sportscar segment is slightly different, so the priorities are slightly different for the customers, but eventually those sorts of technologies become a natural fit across the range.

“AEB and those sorts of technologies were always destined to go on the Mustang at some stage, and, as you will see with every Ford technology such as Sync3 and EcoBoost, will proliferate across the range. It doesn’t stick within one segment.

Mr Smy also said Ford does not expect the existing 6329 Australian owners, or future customers who have already placed orders and are awaiting deliver, to react strongly against the low safety-score or the continuing demand for the Mustang to dip as a result.

“People understand that Mustang is a two-door coupe so we don’t expect a backlash,” he said. “In terms of pedestrian and adult occupant safety, two of the key areas, the Mustang did really, really well and the area that it didn’t do so well in were things like lane-keep assist and that sort of thing.

“Obviously the cars do not have that (safety aids), so buyers haven’t seen that as a deal breaker for their experience of the Mustang. We don’t think there will be a backlash because it did so well in the crucial areas that there would be no genuine reason for a backlash for the Mustang.

“We still expect strong consumer demand for Mustang going forward… Mustang has technology, Mustang has safety and we expect Mustang to remain our hero vehicle.” The Mustang’s result places it well below its contemporary sportscars which include the Mazda MX-5, Toyota 86 and Hyundai Veloster, all of which scored a maximum five stars but were also tested before June 2016.

It also places the Ford muscle car below the Chinese-built MG GS and Haval H9, which both achieved a score of four stars, and LDV V80 and Great Wall Motors V200, which scored three stars.

The last car to score a two-star crash rating with ANCAP was the Chery J11, which has since been discontinued in October 2011.

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