The test, designed to simulate a collision between two vehicles, was carried out at a slightly higher speed than the 56kph required by the European Frontal Impact Legislation, which will cover all new cars produced after September 1998. The aim of the new legislation is to assess the likelihood of death or injury leading to disability. The Avensis passed all injury criteria, with the majority of calculations well within the limits. Only one - which measures the twisting and compression forces on the knee-to-ankle tibia bone - was near to the set parameters.
Manufacturers slammed the NCAP crash testing programme, which has so far given ratings for seven superminis and 13 upper medium cars on the basis that it failed to paint a realistic picture of a vehicle's safety. However many manufacturers now appear to be taking the results seriously - at least in terms of their marketing to customers. The results are being used by Volvo in a TV commercial in Finland, and Land Rover says it has tested its new Freelander to NCAP standards and is confident of a top rating of four stars.