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Mazda defends ANCAP

Star performer: Mazda's MX-5 sportscar dropped a handful of points in crash testing when the driver's head contacted the steering wheel and A-pillar, limiting its Euro star rating to four, but Australian cars got the maximum five.

Euro NCAP discrepancy highlights ANCAP testing value, says Mazda

27 Jun 2016

MAZDA has jumped to the defence of the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), who awarded its popular MX-5 sportscar with a full five-star rating, after its European crash-testing equivalent handed the Japanese roadster only a four stars.

For both Euro NCAP and local ratings, the same crash tests were analysed in which the car dropped some points for insufficient driver's airbag pressure, and despite the four-star European MX-5 being offered with more optional safety features, ANCAP awarded local cars with a maximum five stars.

Speaking at the launch of Mazda's new G-Vectoring system in California, Mazda Australia managing director Martin Benders said the different ratings were down to assessment criteria separate to the more significant crash tests.

“I don’t think there’s a significant issue,” he said. “How do you get five stars if there’s a significant issue? I think they are saying maybe the inflation of the airbag may have to be tweaked but it’s still a five star car.

“All of the differences at the moment are more to do with tick the boxes. The actual crash parts are identical.”

Mr Benders explained that the two organisations are undergoing a global alignment process so that all assessment processes are identical by 2018, regardless of the nation in which the vehicle will be tested or sold.

European MX-5 buyers are offered an optional speed limiter and lane assistance system, which tends to be favoured by the safety assessor, but it is not known whether the new unified score system would have awarded the Australian version four stars or five stars to the European MX-5.

Despite the inconsistent star rating, Mr Benders said the company still values the Australian branch of the assessment program, and that the work of ANCAP would still be important for evaluating models specific to the local market.

“Is Australian testing irrelevant? No it’s not,” he said. “CX-9 is getting tested in Australia because it doesn’t actually go into Europe so we are doing the Euro NCAP testing, whereas in the US it gets tested my MITSA, which is not the same test.”

Mr Benders said that ANCAP testing would continue to be valuable after the Euro and Australian standards align, as local testing would also allow models not destined for Europe to be offered in other global regions.

“If they wanted to take it to Russia or Europe we would have already set the standard for Euro NCAP so it could rely on that.

“If you look at the situation where there’s more cars coming from different markets you don’t always get the tests you want so there’s always going to be a role for them.”

The work of the local safety analyst has previously come under fire from car-makers and the media with some critical publications describing the gradual changes leading up to 2018 as either inadequate, misleading or confusing.

However, the Australian government disagreed with the criticism and put its money where its mouth is in May this year, when it secured the future of ANCAP for another two years with a $2.2 million grant.

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