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ANCAP: Vans load up top score

Mercedes bends: Only Mercedes' Vito scored less than the maximum star rating in the latest round of ANCAP testing, but it bumps up to five stars when fitted with curtain airbags.

Ford and Mercedes light commercials awarded maximum five-star rating

12 May 2016

FIVE light-commercial vehicles from Ford and Mercedes-Benz have been awarded the maximum five-star rating in the latest round of crash safety testing by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

Ford's New Zealand-only Transit-based Toureno bus and Transit Custom van scored the top rating and, while the Valente and its V-Class sibling earned five stars each for the German brand, the Vito only equalled its peers when equipped with curtain airbags.

Vitos lacking the critical head-protecting technology were the only model in the latest round of van tests to slip down the safety scale to a four-star rating.

ANCAP deemed both Ford models sufficiently mechanically similar to share the test results and identical ratings across the board, including an 84 per cent result for adult occupant protection.

The Ford vans scored 12.82 out of 16 in the frontal offset test, a maximum of eight points for side impact, 7.1 in the pole test, while whiplash protection was not Ford's strongest area with 2.4 points out of four.

Children were well protected with a 90 per cent score and safety assistance systems were graded 71 per cent, with speed assistance and ESC scoring maximum marks and one out of three for seatbelt reminders.

Pedestrian safety was graded at a below average 48 per cent with large areas of the bonnet, bumper and windscreen rated as marginal to poor. The front edge of the bonnet was disregarded due to the vehicle's height and shape.

“The Transit is a popular choice for large and small commercial operators such as tradespeople or couriers. Transit drivers will now have the knowledge their van offers the highest level of safety,” said ANCAP CEO James Goodwin.

Like the Ford models, all three Mercedes vans were regarded similar enough to be assessed as one unit with an impressive overall score for the trio of 93 per cent in the area of adult occupant protection.

Full marks were scored in both side impact and pole tests, while a near perfect score was returned for frontal offset (15.76 out of 16) and 3.7 out of four possible marks for whiplash protection.

Child occupant protection was rated at 87 per cent, while maximum scores for ESC and speed assistance and a two out of three rating for seatbelt reminders resulted in a total score of 85 per cent for assistance systems.

Pedestrian safety tests resulted in a 67 per cent score thanks to a generally good-to-adequate result in all areas except the stiff A-pillars which were rated poor.

Vitos not fitted with curtain airbags differed from the other three Merc models in the pole test which fell to a score of zero out of eight, dragging the overall adult occupant result to 76 per cent, but from July, all versions will have the bags included as standard.

“Mercedes-Benz has taken the responsible action to work with ANCAP to improve safety and address the four-star result,” said Mr Goodwin. “This is an encouraging outcome for safety and should be commended for working quickly to implement these important safety improvements.

“Consumers should therefore be mindful that Vito variants without head-protecting side airbags are four-star rated.”

Mr Goodwin explained that the most recent results increase the choice of light-commercial vehicles for organisations that only permit employees to drive five-star rated vehicles.

“These ratings provide both commercial and private buyers with greater choice in the van and people-mover categories.

“For commercial buyers – many of whom are now required by their employers to have a vehicle with a five-star ANCAP safety rating – these ratings open the door to a number of new vehicle choices.”

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