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Renault Captur can only get four stars: ANCAP

Raise the curtain: The Renault Captur crossover will miss out on curtain airbags when it lands in Australia in May 2014.

ANCAP says Captur will get four star rating unless Renault adds curtain airbags

Renault logo13 May 2013

By TIM NICHOLSON

AUSTRALIA’S crash-test authority ANCAP says Renault’s Captur mini-SUV will likely miss out on a five-star safety rating when it arrives in May next year because it lacks rear curtain airbags New ANCAP criteria that come into effect on January 1, 2014 require all new cars released in Australia to have front and rear head-protecting curtain airbags as standard to be eligible for the maximum five star rating.

Had the Captur been released this year, it would be eligible for a full five star rating even without the curtain airbags, but the new 2014 rules mean that it can only achieve a maximum four stars.

As reported, the French car-maker will include four airbags in the Clio-based Captur, forgoing curtain airbags to save costs and space for rear headroom and grab handles.

ANCAP CEO Nicholas Clarke said the crash test authority has required head protection for front occupants with either curtain airbags or combination seat airbags for a number of years but the new rules add better protection for rear passengers.

“What we have said is we’ve had front head protection for ages,” he said. “We are now saying if you are going to have front protection you need rear.”“From January 1, to get a five star rating for a car that is launched in Australia on or after that date you will definitely need, amongst many other things, head protecting technology in the front and rear. In other words curtain airbags.”

The Captur goes on sale in the UK mid-year and is yet to be tested by Euro NCAP.

But the crossover will not arrive in Australian showrooms until May 2014 – meaning the new ANCAP regulations could spell trouble for Renault.

“Unless it shifts to full curtain airbags by the time it gets here, it can’t get a five star rating because it needs the full front and back head protecting airbags and really the most effective way to do that is the curtain,” said Mr Clarke.

“What surprises me about the Captur is that it doesn’t have the gear. If you look at the cars in this market that are five star, do a quick assessment of the gear they’ve got and I think you will find that pretty much all of them have curtain airbags.”“I’m surprised that grab rails would take preference over curtain airbags but that’s not for me to judge,” he said.

Mr Clarke said that the Captur was not alone in omitting curtain airbags, with Volkswagen’s tiny Up city car and recently released Beetle coupe also going without the potentially life-saving safety technology.

“The Volkswagen Up, which is a terrific little car, has autonomous emergency braking and front head protection and is a five-star car, that’s a fantastic car.

“The fact that it has no airbag protection in the rear is problematic but it is a very small car and you would have to ask how many passengers you could get into the rear of a tiny car like that and travel for a long period of time, so the risk in those cars perhaps is probably more in the front seat,” he said.

While Mr Clarke said cars like the Captur and Up are the exceptions rather than the rule, he thought it was a matter of time before car-makers added curtain airbags to models that do not currently offer them.

“We would expect that at some point (the Captur) as well as the Beetle and others will have curtains in the back. We have lots of small cars with curtains in the back already so it can be done.”

Mr Clarke said that car-makers should prioritise safety when engineering and designing a new car, regardless of specification and cost.

“I think that there is an obligation for manufacturers to build the safest car they can so that everybody gets into a safe car irrespective of the variant they buy.”

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