Thursday, May 29, 2008

Crash test rap for major makers

Despite good overall results, safety experts say manufacturers need to try harder.

Car manufacturers have been given a rap by Euro NCAP crash testers.

The criticism came after it released its latest round of results for models including the Ford Kuga, new Audi A4 and SEAT Ibiza.

Despite the Kuga earning three stars out of four in the pedestrian protection category – the maximum rating achieved to date by any car evaluated – Euro NCAP argues that the score still isn’t good enough.

Its spokeswoman told us: “Of the seven cars tested, four got the top mark of five stars for adult occupant safety. But it’s disappointing they’re still trailing on pedestrian protection.”

Manufacturers’ scores have so far varied dramatically on this test, which measures the impact of a child or adult hitting a car’s bonnet or bumper. But Euro NCAP says new rules which will be introduced in two years could change that. They would force makers to modify vehicle nose designs to make them more pedestrian friendly.

Despite all the cars in the latest round of tests achieving four stars out of five for child protection, its spokeswoman argued that these results should be better, too.

“Although this is the maximum score that any car in the market is currently getting in this category, it would be good to see a five-star result,” she said. No vehicle in Euro NCAP’s history has ever achieved a top score for child protection, but this is the first time that all the models tested have recorded four.

Ford’s Kuga was joint best of the seven cars rated, with five, four and three stars for adult, child and pedestrian protection respectively. It scored maximum marks in the side and pole impact tests. The Ibiza was rated the same overall, with readings from the dummies revealing that passenger knees and legs were well protected.

Skoda’s new Superb also impressed, with engineers noting that front seat occupants of different sizes would be equally safe, no matter how the front seat was adjusted. On the Audi A4 there was “negligible distortion” of the passenger compartment.

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