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Below-par crash result for Mercedes van

Seeing stars: Merc scores a lower safety rating than the Kangoo on which it is based.

Australia seeks more info after Mercedes Citan scores three-star Euro NCAP rating

30 Apr 2013

MERCEDES-BENZ – the company that reset commercial vehicle safety benchmarks in Australia – is now having to weigh up if it adds another van here that falls short on crash safety.

The German car-maker announced late last year that it planned to introduce the Citan compact van to Australia to compete against the likes of other small vans including the Volkswagen Caddy, Peugeot Partner, Citroen Berlingo and Fiat Doblo.

However, those plans appear to be on hold as the company seeks more information about a European New Car Assessment Program crash test that gave the Citan a below-par three stars out of a possible five.

Surprisingly, the Renault Kangoo on which the Citan is based earned a higher four-star rating when it was tested in 2008. A significantly facelifted version of the Kangoo is due on sale here late this year.

According to the Euro NCAP crash test, the Citan offered only marginal protection for the driver’s chest, and some parts of the dashboard presented a hazard to the driver and passenger’s knees and legs.

More importantly, the Euro NCAP test found that the potentially life-saving side-curtain airbags – which protect the driver’s and passenger’s heads in the event of a side-on collision – did not work properly.

“In the side barrier test, dummy readings indicated good protection of the head. However, the side curtain airbag did not deploy as intended, getting caught on the upper seat belt anchorage point, and the car was penalised,” Euro NCAP’s report of the test results says.

“The same thing happened with the curtain airbag in the side pole test. Mercedes have indicated that they will improve the performance of the curtain airbag.” The report also notes that a “noticeable gap” appeared between the van’s central pillar and the front edge of its sliding door, creating a gap that “might jeopardise the protection of occupants’ limbs”.

Mercedes-Benz Australia senior corporate communications manager David McCarthy said it was too early to comment on what impact the crash test result would have on the Citan’s launch here, and the car-maker was seeking more information on the result.

“I’m not able to make a comment at this stage,” he said.

The Citan was developed as part of Mercedes-Benz’s partnership with the Renault-Nissan Alliance.

While it wears the Mercedes star on its bonnet, underneath it is a version of Renault’s Kangoo van, although with a heavily redesigned front, rear and interior. It also uses the same four-cylinder diesel engine developed for the A-Class.

Mercedes-Benz Australia was the first car-maker to earn a five-star Australasian New Car Assessment Program crash test rating for a commercial van sold here after side-curtain airbags were added to the options list for the Vito.

Mitsubishi’s Express – Australia’s worst-performing vehicle after it received a one-star crash rating – will soon stop selling here after the Japanese car-maker today confirmed it would not make any more orders for the commercial van.

Mitsubishi’s manager of corporate communications, Caitlin Beale, told GoAuto that it still had some stock of the van on sale, but once they ran out they would not be replaced.

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