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ANCAP gives Mazda MX-5 top safety score

High five: The MX-5 received high marks from ANCAP in the pedestrian protection test thanks to its 'active' pop-up bonnet.

Mazda's MX-5 gets top marks for pedestrian safety and full five-star rating

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Mazda logo7 Jun 2016

By TIM NICHOLSON

MAZDA'S popular MX-5 drop-top has been awarded the maximum five-star crash safety rating as well as achieving the best pedestrian protection of any car on sale in Australia, according to tests conducted by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

The rag-top, that launched last year in 1.5-litre and 2.0-litre variants, achieved a high overall score of 35.2 out of a maximum 37. The score is slightly higher than the five-star rated Toyota 86 that achieved 34.4 points, but was a shade off the Hyundai Veloster's score of 35.47.

It was a different story in the European NCAP equivalent of the Australian tests, in which the new MX-5 only scored four stars – the same rating that the previous-generation model was awarded in Australia.

The two-door convertible was praised by ANCAP chief executive officer James Goodwin, who said the five-star rating was a solid result “for this type of vehicle” and a major improvement over the model it replaced.

“This is a significant improvement on the model it replaces,” he said.

“Roadsters present a design challenge for manufacturers in ensuring equivalent levels of occupant protection to conventional cars.

“Their structures obviously differ so additional engineering elements are needed in order to provide the same levels of structural safety.” One area the roadster scored particularly highly was in pedestrian protection, achieving a score of 33.72 out of 36, prompting Mr Goodwin to confirm that it was “the highest pedestrian protection score we have seen for any vehicle to date”.

The high score was helped by the inclusion of the MX-5's 'active' or pop-up bonnet that provides room between a pedestrian's head and the hard components under the bonnet.

According to ANCAP the next highest pedestrian protection rated car in Australia is the Volvo V40 hatch that has an under-bonnet airbag.

In the side impact test the MX-5 scored the full 16 points, with ANCAP saying it provided “good” protection for the driver, while the model also achieved the maximum two points for the side pole test. Whiplash protection was also rated as “good”.

The MX-5 received 14.2 out of 16 for the frontal offset test and was praised in most areas of the test, although ANCAP said that the driver’s head “contacted the A-pillar during the crash and then contacted the steering wheel through the airbag”.

While Mr Goodwin praised Mazda's compact sportscar for its safety gains, he criticised its lack of active safety features.

“Autonomous emergency braking, active lane support and speed assistance systems are lacking.

“As a newly designed model – one that is likely to remain in the market for some time – it is concerning to see these important safety technologies have been overlooked.” Mazda Australia marketing director Alastair Doak said the car-maker focused on safety when it was developing the latest version of its iconic sportscar.

“Considerable effort went into making the all-new Mazda MX-5 the safest two-seater sportscar of its type ANCAP awarding it five stars validates this approach,” he said.

“Mazda MX-5 – from generation to generation – has been held in the highest regard thanks to its ground-breaking design, its even 50:50 weight distribution and fun-to-drive driving dynamics.

“When this is considered, and thanks to Mazda’s proactive safety philosophy and the focus on occupant and pedestrian protection, the MX-5 is a truly impressive vehicle.” Standard safety features on all grades of the MX-5 include driver and passenger and side airbags, anti-lock braking, dynamic stability control, emergency brake assist, emergency stop signal, hill launch assist and a traction control system.

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