Alto gets three stars in Euro­pean test

Suzuki is bank­ing on airbags to save baby, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THE ar­rival of a new Suzuki price-fighter has taken a heavy hit from a sub­stan­dard three-star crash-rat­ing in Europe. The baby Suzuki Alto trailed a five-star pack led by the Audi Q5 in the lat­est round of Euro NCAP test­ing, but the lo­cal im­porter says it is not wor­ried by the re­sult.

Suzuki Aus­tralia is bank­ing on a four-star tick once the car is crasht­ested lo­cally af­ter its launch next month.

‘‘It wasn’t our car. The Aus­tralian spec­i­fi­ca­tion car is sig­nif­i­cantly dif­fer­ent, with six airbags as stan­dard and elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol avail­able on the higher-range car,’’ Suzuki Aus­tralia gen­eral man­ager Tony Dev­ers says.

‘‘We’ve done some lo­cal re­search and ANCAP says it prob­a­bly will get four stars. We’re very con­fi­dent it will be four stars. We’re looking for­ward to hav­ing it tested here. We’re con­fi­dent.’’

Dev­ers says it’s also im­por­tant to con­sider the car’s price and its com­pe­ti­tion.

‘‘Peo­ple com­pare it with the Hyundai i20, but it should be against the i10 and some other small cars from Europe,’’ he says.

Even so, Euro NCAP chief Michiel van Ratin­gen high­lighted the ar­eas in which the Alto is lack­ing.

‘‘The Suzuki Alto scored three stars. Its rat­ing (was) lim­ited by its per­for­mance in adult oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion, child pro­tec­tion, and safety as­sis­tance tech­nolo­gies,’’ he says.

One Euro-fo­cused baby that could ri­val the Alto is the Kia Soul, which has five Euro NCAP stars. It costs more, but is cash­ing in on the funk fac­tor among young buy­ers. The Soul, the Q5, Honda Jazz, Hyundai i20 and Peu­geot 3008, which is not planned for Aus­tralia, all got five.

Euro NCAP tests now in­clude pedes­trian and child-oc­cu­pant pro­tec­tion though, un­like in Aus­tralia, a five-star rat­ing does not re­quire elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol.

‘‘At the heart of the new rat­ing scheme is the ob­jec­tive to of­fer con­sumers a full pic­ture of a car’s over­all safety per­for­mance,’’ van Ratin­gen says. ‘‘Many claim the weight and size of a car are the only cri­te­ria for safety. We be­lieve other as­pects are just as im­por­tant. The smaller cars we tested whose re­sults are re­leased to­day show size should not stand in the way of all-round safety.

‘‘Euro NCAP would like to com­mend the Honda Jazz and the Hyundai i20 for their im­pres­sive pedes­trian scores that not only meet cur­rent re­quire­ments, but Euro NCAP’s fu­ture re­quire­ments.

‘‘ Seats from the Kia Soul achieved a good re­sult in the pro­gram’s whiplash test­ing, again re­veal­ing it’s not only the larger or ex­pen­sive cars that achieve im­pres­sive re­sults.’’

Bags of fea­tures: the six airbags in the new Suzuki Alto should help it get a four-star safety rat­ing.

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