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Four-star ANCAP result for Carnival a ‘great shock’ - Kia

Surprise result: The 64km/h frontal offset crash test fared poorly for Kia Carnival’s dummy driver, displaying “significant footwell deformation”.

Poor frontal offset test score for new Carnival has Kia Oz scrambling for answers

Kia logo31 Mar 2015

By TIM ROBSON

KIA’s new-generation Carnival people-mover has scored a four-star safety rating out of a maximum of five from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), owing to “below par” crash-test performance and the omission of a required safety feature.

While a four-star result was anticipated by Kia Motors Australia, due to the omission of a second-row seatbelt warning buzzer, the news that the Carnival performed poorly in the frontal offset crash test has sent shockwaves through the company.

The frontal offset test – conducted in ANCAP’s test labs in western Sydney, and run at 64km/h – exposed excessive movement of the foot-operated parking and foot brake pedals and “significant footwell deformation”, according to ANCAP.

Dash components were also noted as a potential source of injury to the driver’s knees.

The Carnival scored 10.48 out of a possible 16 in the frontal offset test. By way of comparison, its category rival, the Honda Odyssey, was tested by ANCAP in 2014, and scored 12.75.

Both vehicles scored perfectly in the side-impact test, achieving a mark of 16 out of 16.

Overall, the Carnival scored 30.48 out of a possible 37. The Odyssey, meanwhile, achieved 32.75, with the only key difference being the frontal offset score.

Launched last year, the Odyssey is rated at five stars but also lacks the second-row seatbelt warning system. ANCAP updated its testing regimen in January this year, requiring a vehicle to be fitted with such a system before it could be considered for a five-star rating.

Kia Motors Australia chief operating officer Damien Meredith told GoAuto at the Carnival’s launch in February that he had the “utmost confidence in the car” receiving a five-star rating once the seatbelt warning light was added, which should occur later this year.

ANCAP chief executive Nicholas Clarke seized upon the opportunity presented by the Carnival’s poor showing to criticise the pre-empting of its findings: “It is always sensible to wait until testing is complete and an official ANCAP safety rating issued.

“The ANCAP test and assessment process involves many elements and requires significant specialist expertise to determine the final overall rating. Speculation as to a vehicle's rating ahead of publication simply leads to consumer confusion.” “Independent testing is the best way to determine the overall safety of a car.” KMAu released a statement last night expressing “great shock” at the result.

“We are obviously extremely surprised by the outcome ANCAP announced today,” Mr Meredith said. “It was definitely unexpected as all indications from internal data and the car’s excellent performance in the North American Highway Safety Institute’s testing, led us to believe there would be a five-star outcome.” The US test – conducted on a 2015-model left-hand-drive Kia Sedona (Carnival in Australia) – scored the car as ‘good’, the highest result possible on the organisation’s four-tier ranking system.

It noted that the risk of injury to the driver’s legs and feet in its testing was “low”. There was no information on intrusion on the right-hand side of the vehicle.

It also noted that it tested the car twice. The unlocked driver’s door flew open at the first attempt, prompting Kia to make a running change to the vehicle’s auto door lock feature to prevent consumers from overriding the system. The results are based on the second test.

The Carnival/Sedona is made in South Korea, and is predominantly designed for left-hand-drive markets. The Carnival’s steering system, for example, is hydraulic, because the left-hand-drive Sedona’s electric system could not be suitably retrofitted to a right-hand-drive configuration.

The data from the ANCAP test result has already been sent to Kia Motor Company’ s research and development department in Korea, said Mr Meredith, with an eye to implementing an “engineering fix as soon as possible”.

“The R&D team will now have an opportunity to fully explore and analyse this result, and once that process has been completed KMAu will be in a better position to comment further,” he said.

Kia Australia sold 306 Carnivals in February, with 271 of those the all-new model. It starts at $41,490, plus on-road costs for the S petrol auto, and tops out at $59,990 for the Platinum diesel.

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