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First zero-star car sparks crash-test fears

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A mass end-of-year set of crash tests have sparked concerns at safety body Euro NCAP, with many low scores topped by the first-ever no-star result.

The Fiat Punto was among a host of cars retested and re-rated by Euro NCAP because while launched several years ago, they have remained on sale, their lives extended by facelifts.

The Punto first launched in 2005, and is both still available new in the UK and a strong seller in its home market of Italy. The crash test results indicated marginal or weak protection for the chest of both front and rear seat passengers, and danger of injury to occupants from structures in the dashboard. Protection for child occupants was also rated poor, weak or marginal in several areas.

To achieve star ratings cars have to score a high enough percentage in the wide range of tests carried by Euro NCAP. And according to the testers, the Punto was let down by failing to keep up with the latest safety technology fitted to more recent cars.

In areas such as adult and child occupant safety and pedestrian protection, the Fiat still performs well enough to qualify for at least two stars but the lack of driver assistance and crash avoidance systems dooms it. The only standard-fit driver assistance is a seatbelt reminder. resulting in a zero score in this category. And the car also scored zero in the side-pole impact test, due to the test not being able to be carried out because the car does not come fitted with a head-protecting airbag as standard.

“This is perhaps the strongest example of a manufacturer continuing to sell a product that is well past its best-before date, at the expense of the unsuspecting car buyer,”  said Euro NCAP Secretary General, Michiel van Ratingen.

Cars lose their stars

In total 15 cars were analysed in the latest set of tests and other recently facelifted older cars also came in for criticism. The Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Ford C-Max and Grand C-MAX, Vauxhall Viva, DS 3 and Toyota Aygo all saw their star score drop to three, though when fitted with optional safety equipment the Aygo rating was restored to four stars.

Kia Stonic crash test The Car Expert
The brand new Kia Stinger is a five-star crash-test car.

Two more recent cars, the MG ZS and new Dacia Duster, could also only manage three stars, while the Kia Stonic’s three-star score increased to five stars for cars fitted with an optional safety pack.

The tests proved happier for the brand-new Hyundai Kona small SUV, the Kia Stinger GT, the Jaguar F-Pace SUV and the BMW 6 Series coupé. All scored top five-star ratings.

“We have seen a lot of good cars in 2017, able to meet Euro NCAP’s five-star requirements – superminis like the new Volkswagen Polo, the Ford Fiesta and the SEAT Ibiza now come with advanced safety technology as standard, offering the best in crash avoidance and crash protection,”  van Ratingen added.

“The fact that older cars cannot compete illustrates the pace at which the vehicle industry is innovating safety and the willingness and ability of competitive manufacturers to meet the highest standards. Those who do not keep their cars up to the latest standards get left behind, as these results clearly show.

“We would urge consumers to check our website for the latest ratings and to choose cars with the most up-to-date five-star ratings, many examples of which we have seen in 2017.”

MG ZS crash test The Car Expert
The MG ZS, launched in 2017, could only achieve three stars.

The latest from The Car Expert

Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.