The current Panda has been around since 2011, and was originally awarded a four-star rating when it was new. But safety standards have improved significantly over the last seven years, and the Panda has fallen a long way off the pace.
One of the particular areas of concern was child safety, where the Panda scored a miserable 16% – compared to an industry average of 79%. The Panda failed to score more than 50% in any of the four categories (adult protection, child protection, vulnerable road users and safety assistance systems), which meant that it automatically scored zero stars.
Matthew Avery, director of research at UK safety organisation Thatcham Research, was not impressed: “Most troubling is that the Fiat Panda is seen as a good choice for young drivers and fledgling families. But the only safety technology fitted were seatbelt reminders and the rear system failed to meet requirements, so wasn’t even rated.
“These shocking Euro NCAP test results demonstrate an inconsistent commitment to safety, as Fiat has produced four and five-star cars in the past.
“Where budgets are tight, consider a safer small car second-hand, like the five-star SEAT Ibiza.”
New Jeep Wrangler equally disappointing
Fiat Chrysler Automotive came in for further stinging criticism with its American subsidiary, Jeep. When the all-new Jeep Wrangler 4×4 was put through the same crash testing regime, it scored a paltry one-star rating.
While Fiat can at least claim that the Panda is a seven-year-old vehicle and is unable to be redesigned to meet some of the latest standards, it has no such excuse with the new Jeep Wrangler, which is a completely new design and has only just arrived in UK showrooms.
The new Wrangler has achieved the worst score of any new model ever tested by Euro NCAP, and the third-worst in history ahead of the Fiat Panda and Punto.
Avery stated: “Unlike the Fiat Panda, the Jeep Wrangler is an entirely new vehicle and doesn’t come cheap. Buyers outlaying over £50,000 on a car should expect more than a one-star safety rating.
“No AEB (autonomous emergency braking) system is fitted, which is unheard of in this price bracket. There were a number of issues with the Wrangler in impact testing too, in terms of deformation of the footwell and damage to connecting structures, while the make-up of the dashboard was seen to present a risk to occupants.”
The controversy over Fiat and Jeep’s poor results rather detracted from some excellent five-star results for Audi, BMW, Hyundai, Jaguar, Peugeot and Volvo, which we will explore in a separate article.