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ANCAP re-tests Holden Commodore

Testing times: ANCAP has re-tested the ZB Commodore at the Crashlab facility in Sydney.

Delivery delay meant ANCAP pushed Holden Commodore test back


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9 May 2018

THE Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has re-tested the ZB Holden Commodore as part of an audit of the five-star result awarded to the large car based on the Euro NCAP score of its Opel Insignia twin.

While several vehicle manufacturers supply ANCAP with vehicles, Holden declined to provide the federal government-funded body with a ZB Commodore. Instead it provided a submission that successfully argued why the five-star result of the German-built Insignia, on which it is heavily based, should apply.

ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin called the submission “comprehensive” enough to score the ZB Commodore a total of 35.5 out of 38 points and award it a five-star rating back in February, however he admitted that some concerns remained.

ANCAP then purchased its own ZB Commodore, and this week invited GoAuto to observe a 64km/h frontal-offset test of its own V6-powered, all-wheel-drive RS-V liftback.

“There was nothing in that official submission process to give us cause to withhold the rating,” Mr Goodwin told GoAuto at ANCAP’s Crashlab in Sydney this week.

“(But) the original test vehicle was a 1.6-litre diesel (Insignia) in left-hand drive. We did have that concern that it was based on a 1.6-litre diesel, it’s not offered in Australia, and it’s very different to the engines that Australians will be buying.

“Not one of the (Commodore) variants on sale in Australia or New Zealand was actually that tested variant, so this was flagging for us as potential for an audit candidate. The audit program is to provide that added assurance that you can rely on the NCAP rating, and even if we rely on European data or in-house data, we have systems in place to ensure the credibility and reliability of that data.”

Mr Goodwin added that ANCAP had hoped to audit the ZB Commodore result closer to its January launch, however its purchase was delayed and then altered.

He said the delivery date was pushed back by two weeks due to an Electronic Control Unit (ECU) glitch affecting V6s only, before the requested red-coloured ZB was changed to a silver-coloured vehicle by Holden and without notice.

ANCAP then purchased a third, white Commodore RS-V V6 anonymously from a local dealership to test this week at its Crashlab facility.

“Last year we asked and probably expected that Holden may want to fund a local rating program for the Commodore, noting the differences of the models that are likely to sell here and the Insignia,” Mr Goodwin continued.

“When Holden didn’t want to undertake a local program, we also investigated whether we could do that ourselves. The vehicle was ordered then selected, and there were delays in the delivery. Really we were just an ordinary customer to (Holden), but we had ordered a red one – not that we care about the colour – and we ended up with a silver one.

“And for an audit purpose that didn’t seem right. It just flagged our concerns that we really needed to get the vehicle that we ordered. (So) I walked into a dealership and we found one that was in stock and … we could physically see it and physically watch it go onto the tow truck for delivery. I’m not accusing anyone (but) this was an audit purpose, we had to be independent with this one.”

Visually, and as witnessed by GoAuto, the Commodore RS-V performed in the crash as expected, after it was pulled by a cable down an internal driveway and flung into a wall with a protruding deformable barrier designed to impact the driver’s side – or 40 per cent of the front – of the 3.6-litre V6-engined, all-wheel-drive liftback.

Following the impact, the hazard lights activated, the front airbags and seatbelt pretensioners deployed – the latter causing a slight crease in the roofline – and the windscreen was cracked but not broken.

However, more data was now needed from four new crash test dummies – emulating two adults and two children, as part of a new ANCAP regime for 2018 – inside.

Their readings will now be compared with Euro NCAP data of the Insignia 1.6-litre turbo-diesel, front-wheel drive liftback tested overseas.

“The engine compartment has been retained forward of the firewall, which is something that we would expect,” Mr Goodwin said following the impact.

“The A-pillar is largely intact, the B-pillar is intact and it looks like you can open this (driver’s) door without reasonable force. The steering column has moved as it should have done to create that buffer between the driver and the hard steering column.”

There was, however, concern over a brake pedal that had twisted up towards the driver’s leg and, “(so) we will be looking at things like the lower leg and where those feet are in particular to see whether that is going to affect the score”.

With a modest increase in federal government funding assured for the next five years, ANCAP was keen to spruik its value in a country without a local manufacturing industry and despite acquiring half its test results – 49 ratings of which were given last financial year, with 51 so far this year – from Euro NCAP.

Mr Goodwin also stressed that the re-test was as much about auditing Holden as it was its own shared results.

“We knew that we were relying a lot on other people to provide information about the ratings that we publish, all very sound and scientific and fine,” he said.

“The best thing is to get the ratings out as soon as possible, that helps consumers.

“But what that means is, relying on other people’s information data (so) we need a checking mechanism to make sure those procedures and that information is valid.”

The final crash test result will be published in the coming weeks.

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