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Small cars are safety stars - for now

Belted: Ford's new Fiesta - which is based on the new Mazda2's, uses around 55 per cent high-strength steel and is said to be 10 per cent stiffer torsionally yet about 40kg lighter than before - hits the ENCAP crash barrier.

New Ford Fiesta and Alfa MiTo score five NCAP safety stars as Ford’s Ranger gets two

General News logo28 Nov 2008

FORD’S redesigned Fiesta and the new Alfa Romeo MiTo are among eight new models to receive a maximum five-star crash safety rating from Euro NCAP.

On sale in Australia from early next year, the new Fiesta has improved upon the four-star result achieved by its predecessor and joins the new Mazda2, with which it shares its stiffer and lighter new B-segment platform, in NCAP’s exclusive five-star light-car club.

Apart from the Fiesta, MiTo and Mazda2, that club also includes Fiat’s 500 and Punto (with which the MiTo shares its platform), plus Toyota’s Yaris, Peugeot’s 207 and 207CC, Mini’s new Cooper, Renault’s Clio MkIII and the Opel/Vauxhall Corsa (not sold here).

But while the MiTo, due here in mid-2009, matched the Fiesta’s five-star adult occupant protection rating, it failed to emulate the Ford’s creditable four-star child and three-star pedestrian safety ratings.

Like Ford’s Ranger utility and MkII Ka, a remake of the Blue Oval’s infamous A-segment contender that is under consideration for Australia, the MiTo gained only three-star child and two-star pedestrian results.

80 center imageLeft: Ford Ka, Alfa Romeo MiTo, Honda Accord Euro, Peugeot 308CC, Renault Megane, Volkswagen Golf and Volvo XC60.

But while the Ka scored a four-star adult protection rating, the Ranger earned only a two-star adult crash safety score, bettering the Isuzu D-Max/Holden Colorado but falling short of the three-star result achieved by Nissan’s Navara and the segment-leading four-star test result posted by Mitsubishi’s Triton.

Following Australian NCAP retesting of Holden’s facelifted Barina recently, Fiat’s Panda and Kia’s Picanto remain the only two light or sub-light cars not to achieve a four-star NCAP test score.

In fact, of the 12 models for which test results have become available this quarter, only the not-sold-here Dacia Sandero and Mercedes-Benz Viano (which both posted poor one-star pedestrian safety results), didn’t achieve a five-star occupant safety rating.

In yesterday’s press release titled ‘The last time best-selling cars score five stars?’ Euro NCAP warned it was unlikely the world’s smallest and most popular models would fare as well under the independent crash safety body’s tougher new rating system.

The first results for vehicles tested under the new regime, which like the Australian NCAP system will incorporate an electronic stability control (ESC) prerequisite to achieving a five-star crash rating, will be released in February 2009.

“It is clear that Euro NCAP’s new rating scheme in 2009 will offer a more discriminating view of the overall safety performance of today’s best-selling vehicles and give customers the opportunity to prioritise and maximise the safety options on their vehicles,” said Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen.

Small cars that also scored a maximum five-star safety award in the latest round of Euro NCAP tests included Volkswagen’s upcoming MkVI Golf, Renault’s all-new Megane and the Peugeot 308CC – all of which matched the crash safety performance of the models they replace, and all of which will be launched in Australia next year.

The new Megane achieved the joint highest-ever NCAP score (a perfect 37 points out of 37), matching that of the Qashqai/Dualis from sister company Nissan to become Renault’s 11th model to gain a five-star NCAP rating.

However, only the Golf posted a respectable four-star child and three-star occupant protection rating from NCAP, with the 308CC and Megane attracting only two pedestrian safety stars and the 308CC gaining only three stars for child safety.

Bettering their forebear’s NCAP crashworthiness ratings, however, are two mid-size models in Honda’s new Accord Euro, which is already on sale here, and the new Opel/Vauxhall Insignia, which replaces the Vectra and could eventually be sold in Australia alongside Holden’s Daewoo-sourced Epica medium sedan.

Both models lifted their NCAP rating from four stars to five, and Honda points out the Accord Euro achieved the best combined NCAP crash test rating in its class by matching the Insignia’s four-star child safety score and bettering its two-star pedestrian safety score with the category’s first three-star pedestrian rating.

Finally, Volvo’s XC60, due in Australian showrooms in March, also top-scored with a five-star crash rating.

Thanks to its Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS), it was also among only five out of 25 cars tested to achieve a ‘good’ or ‘green’ rating in Euro NCAP’s first rear impact (whiplash) test). The other four were the MiTo, Insignia, Golf VI and Audi A4, with NCAP claiming that 80 per cent of seats tested need improvement.

Of the 25 seats tested, NCAP rated eight as ‘poor’ or ‘red’, including those found in the Daihatsu Cuore and Terios, Citroen Berlingo and C5, Hyundai i10, Ford Kuga, Peugeot 308CC and the Suzuki Splash.

“The importance of this new Euro NCAP test has just been underlined with the release of these results,” said Mr van Ratingen.

“A consumer would never know how a seat would perform without this test. Buying a five star award winner will not guarantee that you have a good seat that will protect you from a potential whiplash injury. Euro NCAP’s new test will certainly encourage manufacturers to think again about seat design.”
November ENCAP results:
Category Make and Model Adult
Pick-up Ford Ranger 2 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars
Supermini Alfa Romeo MiTo 5 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars
Supermini Ford Fiesta 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars
Supermini Ford Ka 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars
Small family car Peugeot 308CC 5 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars
Small family car Renault Megane 5 Stars 4 Stars 2 Stars
Small family car Volkswagen Golf 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars
Large family car Honda Accord Euro 5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars
Small off-road 4x4 Volvo XC60 5 Stars 4 Stars 2 Stars

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