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Amarok takes Ranger to task

Safety skirmish: The Volkswagen Amarok range is rated as a five-star crash performer by ANCAP because all Australian models include front head-protecting side curtain airbags.

Volkswagen says its Amarok dual-cab is as safe as Ford’s new Ranger ute

4 Nov 2011

VOLKSWAGEN Group Australia has reacted angrily to reports claiming Ford’s new Australian-designed Ranger ute is safer than its direct rival, VW’s Amarok.

The new Ranger received a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP last month, achieving the highest adult occupant protection score for any one-tonne utility and one of the best for any vehicle tested.

The Amarok dual-cab was awarded only a four-star Euro NCAP rating earlier this year, but is rated as a five-star crash performer by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) locally, where all models are fitted with front head-protecting side curtain airbags.

However, Volkswagen points out that not all Rangers come with a maximum five-star ANCAP rating in Australia, because head airbags are optional on the two entry-level Ranger 4x2 Single Cab cab-chassis variants sold here.

As such, as Ford’s press release stated, the five-star ANCAP rating applies to all Ranger Double Cabs, Super Cabs, Hi-Rider Single Cabs and Single Cab pick-ups sold in Australia, and all Ranger variants sold in New Zealand.

But the two Ranger 4x2 Single Cab cab-chassis variants come with only a four-star ANCAP rating in Australia because head-protecting side airbags became mandatory in achieving a five-star ANCAP rating this year.

“We are pleased to see Ford is taking safety seriously now and have managed to improve the Ranger’s rating from two to five stars,” Volkswagen Group Australia’s general manager of press and PR Karl Gehling told GoAuto.

 center imageFrom top: Ford Ranger 4x2 cab chassis, Mitsubishi Triton NCAP testing, Nissan Navara NCAP testing and updated Toyota HiLux.

“We are disappointed to see that media reports have claimed the entire Ranger model range has achieved five stars, as this is clearly not the case, according to the ANCAP report.”

Furthermore, the Ranger Ford sells in Australia is fitted with a different bumper design to the one tested in Europe, so its outstanding pedestrian impact protection score does not apply here.

According to ANCAP: “Dual front airbags, head-protecting side curtains, anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and electronic stability control (ESC) are standard on all the five-star rated (Ranger) variants.

“Side thorax airbags are also standard except for single-cabs with three front seats (bench seats). These variants, with four airbags, retain a five-star rating.

“Intelligent seat belt reminders are fitted to both front seats of most variants. However, single-cab variants with three front seats only have a driver seatbelt reminder. The overall score for these reduces to 34.72 but they retain a five-star rating.”

As we reported, the Melbourne-designed Ranger, which went on sale in Australia in October and will be built in Thailand, South Africa and Brazil for 180 countries globally, scored 89 per cent for overall safety from Euro NCAP – the best score ever earned by a pick-up and one of the highest scores recorded by Euro NCAP for any type of vehicle.

The Ranger achieved the highest rating of any vehicle ever tested by Euro NCAP for pedestrian protection (81 per cent) – another result that should also apply to Mazda’s new mechanically identical BT-50 ute, which was developed alongside the Ranger in Australia and went on sale in October.

The Ranger scored the same impressive 96 per cent score for adult occupant protection as just two of the 12 vehicles Euro NCAP tested most recently – the Hyundai Veloster coupe and Mercedes-Benz M-class luxury SUV, both of which will go on sale in Australia by early next year.

All 12 vehicles in the latest round of ENCAP testing scored a maximum five-star safety rating, including the Veloster and M-class, as well as the new Toyota Yaris launched here this week, BMW’s new 1 Series hatch and Holden’s Captiva SUV.

However, none of these models matched the 96 per cent overall adult protection or the 81 per cent pedestrian protection score of the Ranger, which also beat all but the Veloster of the 12 most recently tested vehicles in terms of child safety, with a score of 86 per cent.

While Ford and Holden’s Falcon and Commodore passenger car-based utes have achieved five-star (Australasian) NCAP ratings in recent years, the Ranger is the world’s first full-chassis pick-up to do so.

Although Volkswagen’s new Amarok dual-cab is rated as a five-star model in Australia, where all examples are fitted with side/head airbags, it achieves a four-star Euro NCAP rating because in some countries base models are fitted only with twin front airbags.

Euro NCAP awarded the Amarok an 86 per cent score for adult occupant protection, 64 per cent for child protection and 47 per cent for pedestrian protection.

In comparison, Mitsubishi’s Triton is a global four-star performer, while Toyota’s top-selling HiLux also scores four stars.

All Ranger, BT-50 and Amarok models also come standard with electronic stability control – a prerequisite for a maximum five-star Euro NCAP rating – but the potentially life-saving safety feature became standard only on selected HiLux models with this year’s midlife facelift.

The major HiLux upgrade also now sees curtain airbags fitted to 16 model variants.

Like Ford’s Falcon sedan, the Ranger comes standard with twin front and seat-mounted front-side/thorax airbags – plus a driver’s knee airbag – but not full-length side curtain airbags for rear passengers in dual-cab models.

Nissan’s D40 Navara was among the first pick-ups to come with ESC but only scores three stars, while all other utes achieve a three-star result or less. These include the Holden Colorado, Isuzu D-Max, Toyota 70 Series LandCruiser and Nissan Patrol, all of which offer only twin front airbags.

Two-star utes include the Mahindra Pik-Up, SsangYong Actyon Sports Ute and Great Wall V240, while Proton’s car-based Jumbuck was roundly criticised for scoring just one star.

The Colorado, D-Max and Actyon will be replaced by all-new models next year, when a host of new utes from China – including from Foton and ZX Auto – are also expected to go on sale here. A heavily upgraded SsangYong ute is also due in the second quarter.

The third-generation PX Ranger – the first to be developed in Australia – marks a significant improvement over the model it replaces, which achieved only a two-star adult occupant protection rating in 2008.

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