Fleet News

Latest NCAP tests raise doubts about MPV safety

THE latest European New Car Assessment Programme crash tests have called into question the safety of some of the UK's most popular people carriers. Euro NCAP examined the performance of eight MPVs in front and side impact situations, and found shocking shortcomings in some of the vehicles' driver and passenger protection.

This was particularly the case in the frontal impact test, where a number of the MPVs fared poorly, including the Chrysler Voyager which failed to score any points at all, a performance described as 'appalling' by Max Mosley, chairman of Euro NCAP. For the first time ever, NCAP actually revealed vehicles' scores in percentage terms as well as the traditional one to four star rating, giving fleet decision-makers a clear indication of the safest vehicles for their choice lists.

If the latest tests exposed the weakness of MPVs in head-on crashes, it also revealed the benefits of a higher seating position in side impacts, where drivers and passengers sit above the main force of the collision. The Renault Espace and Nissan Serena, for example, scored a maximum 100% in their side impact tests, and even the worst performing vehicle, the Voyager, scored 89%.But in the front impact tests, the scores ranged from 67% for the Espace to 0% for the Voyager. The Volkswagen Sharan, representing the UK's best selling MPV, the Ford Galaxy as well as the SEAT Alhambra, scored 36% in the side impact test, just ahead of the Nissan Serena's 34%, but significantly better than the Mitsubishi Space Wagon's 24%.

Overall, only the Renault Espace and Toyota Picnic achieved NCAP's coveted four star ratings, while the Peugeot 806 (representing the Fiat Ulysse and Citroen Synergie), Nissan Serena, VW Sharan, and Mitsubishi Space Wagon were awarded three stars. At the foot of the table, the Vauxhall Sintra scored three stars but incurred a 'cause for concern' strike-through, while the Voyager picked up just two stars. An official statement from Chrysler said DaimlerChrysler engineers would review the NCAP results, but added that the Voyager's safety record on the road in real world driving conditions was substantially better than the results it achieved in NCAP's laboratory tests, where the offset frontal impact collision simulated a high speed collision that accounts for less than 1% of all traffic accidents.

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