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ANCAP: MG beats LDV to five-star rating

Crashing through: A safety equipment upgrade has secured a five-star rating for MG’s GS SUV.

SAIC sister brands MG and LDV lift the bar on crash safety among Chinese brands

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General News logo27 Sep 2017

MG HAS beaten sister company LDV to the punch to become the first Chinese brand to score a five-star safety rating from the independent Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

LDV had been confident its new T60 one-tonne ute and related D90 large SUV – launched in Australia this week – would grab the headlines as pioneering five-star Chinese vehicles on the Australian market.

However, MG introduced a running upgrade of safety items such as intelligent rear seatbelt reminders on its 2017 model-year GS medium SUV to seal a successful shot at a side pole impact test and subsequent lift from four stars to five stars from ANCAP.

The result marks a watershed moment for Chinese car-makers which have long been regarded as inferior in crash safety.

The MG GS’s elevation was included in a batch of ratings announced this week by ANCAP. Five-star gongs were also awarded to the new Kia Rio and upper variants of the latest Suzuki Swift range.

Because the base Swift GL does not have the full suite of safety technologies required for a five-star rating, it was classed as four star under ANCAP’s new system that allows for the ratings to be split across a model range.

The MG GS five-star rating announcement might be just the first of a flock of high safety ratings for Chinese-built vehicles launched in Australia.

ANCAP has already completed the first – and main – crash test of the LDV T60 ute in Australia, sending a vehicle into an offset crash barrier last Wednesday.

SAIC’s own testing in China indicates the T60 and D90 should achieve five stars, although motor companies have had their hopes dashed before.

Rival Chinese manufacturer Great Wall Motor’s Haval H2 small SUV is also midway through testing, with an announcement expected in a month or two.

MG and LDV are both brands of China’s biggest motor manufacturer, SAIC Motor, although they are distributed in Australia via separate sales channels.

SAIC, which has a long history of joint-venture manufacturing with General Motors and Volkswagen, is committed to five-star safety for its export vehicles after witnessing numerous flops in Europe, Australia and elsewhere by rival Chinese brands such as Chery, Geely and Great Wall.

Great Wall’s ageing Steed ute recently was awarded just two stars in Australia, resulting in damning headlines.

MG – the former British brand that was absorbed along with Rover and LDV by SAIC after the global financial crisis – has been a cut above most of its rivals to date, winning commendable four-star ratings for its mid-sized MG6 and MG6 Plus in both Australia and Europe.

ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin praised SAIC for going back to the drawing board to raise the bar on safety for GS.

“We initially assessed this model earlier this year and saw that while structurally it offered sound levels of occupant protection, its safety specification did not meet what is now expected as a minimum for a five-star car,” he said.

“MG must be commended for upgrading this model and this achievement raises the bar for other similar brands entering the very competitive Australian new-vehicle fleet.”

Under the ANCAP system, vehicles must tick a number of boxes in frontal, side and pedestrian crash testing and equipment standards before they can proceed to the side pole crash test that is essential for a top rating.

Originally, the GS arrived without items such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane support systems and intelligent seatbelt reminders, which were not available from the Chinese factory.

Once they became available in GS, the SUV was cleared to have the pole test, which it passed with flying colours – two points out of two.

The GS also gained three points for the inclusion of rear seatbelt reminders, lifting it to an overall score of 34.47 out of 37 – sufficient for five stars.

Korean manufacturers, which also were once derided for their safety performances, were also to the fore in the latest tests with Kia’s new Rio hatchback getting top honours.

“There is healthy competition within the light-car segment, and the five star rating for all variants of the Rio adds to this,” Mr Goodwin said.

Suzuki opted for price over safety with its base Swift GL, leaving out safety systems that would have given its new small car a clean five-star sweep.

While the Swift GL Navigator, GL Navigator with Safety Pack and GLX Turbo all cleared the bar, the GL fell short.

“The Swift is an affordable car and we would encourage consumers to opt for one of the higher specified models to ensure they’re getting the best safety package,” Mr Goodwin said.

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