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RAV4 under EuroNCAP fire

Toyota's RAV4 comes under the spotlight of European crash test safety experts

Toyota logo7 Aug 2006

By NEIL MCDONALD

THE latest Euro New Car Assessment Program crash test results have highlight two weaknesses in two of the four cars tested.

In the Nissan Note, one of the ISOFIX mounts for the child restraints broke in the side impact test while the airbags in a Toyota RAV4 fired late during the frontal crash test.

Both faults have already been rectified by the manufacturers but EuroNCAP is not impressed with the failures.

Apart from the Note and RAV4, EuroNCAP also tested the Chevrolet Kalos and Land Rover Discovery III.

Of the four vehicles tested, the Discovery, RAV4 and Note received four stars while the Kalos managed three stars.

After investigating the failure, Nissan advised EuroNCAP that the ISOFIX child restraint mount was one from an early batch, which was not welded correctly.

Nissan has introduced a countermeasure and additional checks to ensure the problem does not arise again.

The company has also advised EuroNCAP that it intends to recall all affected cars to modify them.

The late firing of the RAV4's airbags during the frontal crash test was traced to the fact that a cable to a sensor had become detached early in the impact.

Toyota has re-routed the wiring harness and modified the airbag control unit so the airbags deploy at the correct time even if the sensor connection fails.

A second frontal test, on a modified car, showed that the airbags deployed correctly, although the sensor cable was also damaged in that test.

These modifications were introduced into production before Euro NCAP carried out its second test.

However, Toyota has advised Euro NCAP that they do not intend to modify cars that have already been sold to the public.

The chairman of Euro NCAP, Claes Tingvall said that as new cars customers might have expected the Note and RAV4 to have performed better than four stars.

"It is worrying that Euro NCAP's tests revealed potential problems in cars which were already in production and on sale to the public," he said.

8 center image"Nissan are to be congratulated for modifying cars already sold. We believe that all customers should expect to get their cars modified when such weaknesses have been discovered."With regard to pedestrian protection, the Toyota RAV4 has become only the second small off-roader to achieve a three-star rating.

The Toyota rating is in contrast with that of the Land Rover Discovery, which achieved only one star for pedestrian protection. So far, no large off-roader has ever scored more than two stars.

"Honda's CR-V was the first off-roader to be awarded three stars for pedestrian protection. That was back in June 2002," Mr Tingvall said.

"I am pleased that Toyota have finally turned their attention to the problem and that the RAV4 has performed well.

"It shows how much additional protection can be given to pedestrians by relatively simple design changes. I urge other manufacturers to follow this lead."The Chevrolet Kalos's three-star result was better than the Aveo, sold here as the Barina, which managed just two stars when it was tested back in February.

Chevrolet had advised Euro NCAP that the Aveo was an improved version of the Kalos.

The EuroNCAP front impact test is conducted at 64km/h into an offset deformable barrier, while the side impact test is done at 50km/h.

The side impact pole test, which is optional, is done at 29km/h and the pedestrian tests at 40km/h.

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