Fleet News

Top marks for Focus and Astra in latest round of NCAP crash tests

THREE of Britain's newest cars, including two of the country's best-selling fleet models - the Ford Focus, Mercedes-Benz A-class and Vauxhall Astra - achieved top marks in the latest round of crash tests carried out under the European New Car Assessment Programme. The Focus, the 1999 European Car of the Year, the A-class and Astra each scored four stars for front and side impact safety, doubling the number of lower medium sector cars offering that level of protection.

Last year the Audi A3, Renault Megane - which the French manufacturer asked to be retested in the latest round of tests - and the Volkswagen Golf also gained four stars when 12 lower medium sector cars were tested. However, the results of the fifth phase of crash tests, announced in Brussels on Tuesday, reveal poor levels of pedestrian protection with the Euro NCAP consortium singling out the Nissan Almera and Astra as being 'particularly disappointing' with each gaining only one star, along with the Megane.

Meanwhile, both the Focus and the 1995 heavily-revised Ford Escort - although the current model has undergone structural improvements to improve safety - each scored two stars with the Escort almost gaining three. The A-class was not assessed for pedestrian protection. Testers also criticised the protection given by some child seats as 'below par' adding: 'Euro NCAP has criticised car makers in the past for recommending seats which were incompatible with cars' rear belts and testers were disappointed to discover more example. Worse still, warnings against placing a child in a rear-facing restraint opposite a front airbag were often inadequate. In a serious crash, an airbag might crush the restraint and kill the child.'

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