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Five safety stars for VW Up

Top score: The tiny Volkswagen Up hatch performed impressively in the latest Euro NCAP safety tests.

ENCAP awards five stars to Up, Rio and XV but not Grand Cherokee, Fluence ZE or XF

24 Nov 2011

VOLKSWAGEN’S all-new Up city-hatch has scored a five-star crash rating from independent vehicle safety body Euro NCAP, proving that sub-light micro-cars can be as safe as larger models.

The maximum safety rating for the Up three-door, which will provide a new sub-$15,000 entry point to Volkswagen’s Australian range by this time next year, also applies to the closely related Mii hatch from VW sister brand Seat, as well as Skoda’s Citigo, which could also be sold in Australia.

Although safety ratings are not directly comparable across different vehicle types, the Up’s five-star score betters the four-star results revealed in the latest round of ENCAP testing for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Renault Fluence ZE, Jaguar XF, Fiat Panda, Geely Emgrand EC7 and MG6.

The facelifted MY12 XF’s four-star rating, which falls short of the five-star ratings of its direct European and Japanese rivals, carries over from the similar result achieved by the original XF in ENCAP testing a year ago.

However, the four-star results revealed for the Grand Cherokee, which is based on the new-generation Mercedes-Benz M-class and went on sale here in February, and the Fluence ZE, which Renault Australia has committed to releasing as its first electric vehicle here next year, are just as disappointing.

3 center imageEuro NCAP frontal crash tests from top: Volkswagen Beetle, Subaru XV, Kia Rio, Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Euro NCAP said the Fluence ZE underachieved in terms of driver, passenger and pedestrian protection, its four-star result being on par with Mitsubishi’s pioneering battery-powered i-MiEV but falling short of the Volt and Nissan’s upcoming Leaf EV.

The Grand Cherokee, meantime, displayed less than impressive driver and child occupant crash protection.

“In the frontal impact, the seat rail holding the seat belt anchorage came close to breaking in two, resulting in contact, through the fabric of the airbag, of the driver’s head with the steering wheel rim,” said Euro NCAP.

“Euro NCAP urges Jeep to complete its investigation into the cause and implement an improved seat rail design in future production cars soon.”

Along with the Up, Kia’s newly released Rio light-car also scored five stars, as did Volkswagen’s new Beetle, which goes on sale here late next year, Subaru’s all-new Impreza-based XV crossover, which arrives Down Under early next year, and Chevrolet’s Volt plug-in and Malibu mid-sizer, both of which are due in Holden showrooms in late 2012.

Perhaps less unexpectedly, the Mercedes-Benz B-class, C-class Coupe and Range Rover Evoque, all of which went on sale here this year – were also awarded a maximum five-star safety rating.

The Up scored the top Euro NCAP accolade because of its outstanding safety protection for all occupants and the fact all versions come standard with electronic stability control – which is now compulsory for all cars sold in Europe – in all key global markets, but despite Euro NCAP finding its front bumper shape to be less than perfect in the event of an impact with an adult's legs or a child's head.

However, the respected European safety advocate did reward Volkswagen for the Up’s ground-breaking City Emergency Brake option, while Ford’s Focus earned a special mention for its Driver Alert and Forward Alert systems, and the B-class was praised for its Attention Assist and Collision Prevention Assist technologies.

“We are particularly pleased to see Collision Prevention Assist being fitted as standard equipment to the new Mercedes B-class, the first time for a car in this segment to have such equipment so broadly fitted,” said Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen.

“It demonstrates the car-maker’s confidence in the ability of brake support technology, an opinion supported by Euro NCAP.”

Volkswagen’s new Beetle and Subaru’s all-new XV also attracted special commendation for their child occupant protection performance, with both models awarded 90 per cent – the highest score ever given by Euro NCAP for child protection.

The XV also achieved the highest pedestrian protection score (64 per cent) in the latest round of Euro NCAP tests, with the XF also ranking highly in this area with 62 per cent, and also gained commendation for its fully automatic front passenger airbag, which activates only when an occupant of suitable size is detected in the seat.

The highest adult occupant protection score achieved in the latest round of Euro NCAP tests went to the B-class (97 per cent), followed by the Malibu (94 per cent) and the Rio and Beetle (both 92 per cent).

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