Fleet News

Crash tests testify to car makers' progress in small car safety

THE organisers of the European New Car Assessment Programme crash tests are claiming victory this week in their campaign for better new car safety after a string of good performances from superminis.

When superminis were first tested under the scheme, in 1997, manufacturers claimed it was impossible for them to build cars that achieved the maximum four-star rating.

On Wednesday, the organisers revealed that seven cars now have the maximum rating and the sector has claimed the first three star rating for pedestrian safety in any Euro NCAP test, achieved by the Daihatsu Sirion.

In March two vehicles, the Fiat Punto and the Volkswagen Lupo, achieved four stars. The latest test results add five more to the role of honour - the Toyota Yaris, Peugeot 206, Renault Clio, Skoda Fabia and Volkswagen Polo.

Although Euro NCAP tries not to make cross-sector comparisons, they revealed that the Yaris performed so well that it achieved the third best rating ever achieved in the tests, behind the Saab 9-5 and Renault Megane.

A spokesman for Toyota said: 'We are pleased that the car has done so well and this is good news for customers and car buyers, as we have achieved big car safety in a small car. This is a good test of crash safety, but it is only a small part of what we do during development.'

Fiat's position at the top of the league with the Punto was marred with the result for the Fiat Seicento, which scored two stars, with one star struck through, indicating there is a concern of serious injury in at least one vulnerable body region.

The Italian manufacturer hit back, pointing out that the car was not fitted with a driver's airbag, which is standard in the UK, which would have achieved a better result.

Ford's Fiesta and Ka both achieved a three star rating, but are the only cars in their class to achieve a one star rating for pedestrian safety.

Max Mosley Euro NCAP chairman and president of test organiser Federation Internationale de L'Automobile, said: 'Using Euro NCAP's star rating as a guide to car buying can dramatically reduce the risk of

serious or fatal injuries in crashes.'

A test of child seat safety performance gave 'significant' cause for concern, showing examples of new generation ISOFIX designed child seats performing badly.

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