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New Prius is five-star safe

Highly rated: Toyota's Prius received top marks in European safety tests, as did its hybrid rival, the Honda Insight.

Seven new models score top marks for safety in Europe, led by Toyota’s latest Prius

Toyota logo27 Aug 2009


TOYOTA’S third-generation Prius is among no fewer than seven new models to achieve a maximum five-star crash rating from Europe’s top independent automotive safety body, Euro NCAP.

On sale in Australia since July, the latest Prius was one of two petrol-electric models to top-score in the area of pedestrian safety, with Honda’s new-generation Insight hybrid being the only other vehicle to meet the 60 per cent minimum that will be required for a five-star rating from 2012.

Skoda’s compact Yeti SUV, which arrives in Australia next year, achieved the highest adult occupant protection score of 92 per cent, but was closely followed by Renault’s Grand Scenic people-mover (91 per cent), the Insight and Volkswagen’s new Polo hatch (due here in early 2010, both with 90 per cent), the Prius (88 per cent) and Kia’s new Sorento medium SUV (87 per cent), which goes on sale here in January.

In terms of adult occupant protection, which accounts for 50 per cent of the total NCAP score, Citroen’s all-new C3 hatchback (83 per cent), due here in May 2010, out-performed Subaru’s new mid-sized Legacy sedan (79 per cent), which reaches Australian shores next month as the new Liberty.

Despite this and the fact the Subaru scored the lowest child protection rating of 73 per cent, however, the French light-car was the only model of the eight most recently tested not to attract a five-star score.

The Polo achieved the highest child protection rating (of 86 per cent), which like pedestrian protection accounts for 20 per cent of the total NCAP score.

8 center imageFrom top: Citroen C3, Kia Sorento and Honda Insight (bottom).

“The Citroen C3 missed out on Euro NCAP’s highest accolade of five stars as electronic stability control (ESC), although available on some variants in the model range, is not expected to be fitted as standard in sufficient numbers to qualify for points,” said ENCAP.

“In contrast ESC is fitted as standard across the model range in the other cars in today’s line-up, or will be standard equipment in the great majority of sales.”

ENCAP praised both the C3 and its French compatriot, the Grand Scenic, for featuring driver-controlled speed-limit functions as either standard or optional equipment, awarding them extra points in the new “safety assist” assessment component, which contributes 10 per cent to the total score. To qualify for inclusion, “safety assistance devices” must be fitted as standard across 85 per cent of the vehicle’s EU model range.

On the other hand, while the seats and head restraints of the Insight, Yeti and Sorento were found to offer good whiplash protection, ENCAP deemed the C3’s whiplash protection to be poor.

The Sorento emulates Kia’s Europe-only Cee’d, which was the first Korean brand vehicle to achieve ENCAP’s top safety rating, in 2007, while the Insight joining Honda’s Jazz, Civic and Accord to be awarded five stars since the advent of ENCAP’s new rating scheme.

The Grand Scenic, meantime, is Renault’s 12th five-star model, with the same maker’s Laguna II being the first model to score five ENCAP safety stars – in 2001.

Although it matches the five-star status of its predecessor, ENCAP said the 83 per cent overall rating of the Prius, which is the third Toyota model to score a five-star safety rating after the Avensis and iQ (not sold here), proved safety and environmental friendliness are not mutually exclusive.

“The technology and know-how is out there for car-makers to deliver vehicles with better pedestrian protection,” said ENCAP secretary general Dr Michiel van Ratingen. “Honda and Toyota are giving us a glimpse of the cars of the future that consider the natural and social environment in its entirety.”
Make Model Overall rating Adult Child Pedestrian
Citroen C3 4 stars 83 74 33
Honda Insight 5 stars 90 74 76
Kia Sorento 5 stars 87 84 44
Renault Grand Scenic 5 stars 91 76 42
Skoda Yeti 5 stars 92 78 46
Subaru Legacy (Liberty) 5 stars 79 73 58
Toyota Prius 5 stars 88 82 68
Volkswagen Polo 5 stars 90 86 41

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