Car makers insisted that the NCAP's two crash tests were an inadequate sample for scientifically valid results, and highlighted the hundreds of laboratory and real life crash analyses which they carry out as a far better measure of a car's safety performance.
'The crash safety of a car cannot be adequately assessed by conducting just one or two laboratory tests like Euro NCAP,' said Will Edwyn-Jones, managing director of Saab GB, manufacturer of the 9-5, which was the top performing executive car. Saab carried out 40 different tests in developing the 9-5 model, including car-to-car collisions. But we have learnt far more from studying in great detail the outcome of more than 5,000 real-life road accidents involving our cars.'
Volvo is an equally strong advocate of real life data as a more correct measure of a car's safety, claiming the NCAP tests tend to oversimplify this very complex area. Max Mosley, chairman of Euro NCAP, insisted that car makers were already reacting to the crash test programme, adding airbags to improve their vehicles' safety credentials.
The five-year-old Vauxhall Omega achieved a three-star rating in the NCAP tests and would have been upgraded to a four-star had it fitted a passenger airbag as standard. The Mercedes-Benz E-class was also given a three star rating, after scoring 23,069 points in the NCAP tests - just one point shy of the 23,070 points it said were necessary for a four-star score.