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ANCAP criticises four-star Fiat Freemont

Latest results: ANCAP may be unhappy with Fiat’s Freemont, but the safety tester was happy with Holden’s five-star Malibu mid-sizer.

Fiat Freemont family hauler scores only four ANCAP stars, Holden Malibu five

10 May 2013

UPDATED at 14:04 FIAT’S new Freemont people-mover may kick some value goals, but Australia’s crash safety watchdog is less than impressed with its below-par crash rating announced overnight.

The family focused Fiat – launched here in April from a sharp $27,000 drive-away – was one of two cars tested in the latest round of Australasian New Car Assessment Program trials, but only scored four out of a possible five stars when tested.

This is despite the car scoring the full five stars in similar Euro NCAP testing. Fiat Australia has told GoAuto it will review ANCAP's assessment of the data accordingly.

The other car tested, Holden’s forthcoming Malibu mid-sized sedan, scored a top five-star result, ANCAP said.

The Freemont becomes the latest member of the Fiat/Chrysler/Jeep Australia model range to score fewer than five ANCAP stars.

Family-hauling models such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Compass also score four stars.

Members of the Italian/American group's range to score five stars are the Fiat 500, Alfa Romeo Guilietta and Alfa Romeo MiTo. The Chrysler 300 sedan has ano ANCAP score, but scored the maximum in IIHS testing in the US.

Unlike its four-star Epica predecessor, the Malibu scored the maximum five-star result, attaining a commendable 35.47 points out of a possible 37 when tested.

ANCAP’s Freemont result was based on a test conducted by its Euro NCAP partner, and applies to diesel versions only.

This means the volume-selling petrol version is unrated, but since it has the same structure and safety equipment (six airbags and electronic stability control), the result would likely be the same.

According to the ANCAP report, the high-riding Freemont scored perfect marks in the side impact and pole tests, but leg protection in the frontal offset crash that simulates one vehicle turning into the path of an oncoming one was only rated marginal. Furthermore, the car’s pedestrian protection score was also rated as marginal.

The safety watchdog criticised Fiat Australia’s decision not to offer the pedestrian-protecting ‘active’ bonnet that is standard on European versions - a factor in the car's superior Euro NCAP score.

“Models like the Freemont are purpose-built to carry up to seven occupants – in particular families,” said ANCAP chief executive Nicholas Clarke.

“It is therefore concerning that this model did not score sufficient points to achieve a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

“We need to see the same maximum level of vehicle safety technologies offered in all countries. We're all equal we should save lives equally – here, in Europe, in America, in Asia -- right across the world,” Mr Clark said.

“There's no reason why all manufacturers can't build and sell the same vehicles to all.” Fiat Chrysler Group Australia issued a statement to GoAuto, pointing out the car's five-star performance in Europe, as well as its strong performance in ANCAP's side-impact tests.

“We will review ANCAP’s assessment of the data, which has determined the four star rating of the Fiat Freemont, particularly in view of the different outcomes in other markets that have conducted comprehensive physical crash tests of this vehicle," it said.

Meanwhile, according to ANCAP, the Malibu “performed well across all tests, providing good levels of protection to the majority of body regions for both the driver and passenger”.

Holden will launch its new mid-sizer on June 12, mere weeks after the new VF Commodore arrives in showrooms.

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