Star of won­der

It’s a case of five stars good, four stars good enough

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Car News - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­

THE first car maker to sup­port in­de­pen­dent safety test­ing in Aus­tralia has ques­tioned the value of ANCAP star rat­ings.

Re­nault, a long-term fives­tar brand, now says the Aus­tralasian New-Car As­sess­ment Pro­gram is go­ing down a blind al­ley by pur­su­ing a unique lo­cal agenda at a time when Aus­tralian cars are less and less pop­u­lar with con­sumers.

ANCAP down­graded Re­nault’s com­ing Cap­tur SUV to four-star safety rank­ing, de­spite its five-star re­sult in Europe, be­cause it will not be fit­ted with rear airbags.

‘‘ I think ANCAP is at risk of mis­lead­ing Aus­tralians,’’ Re­nault Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Justin Ho­ce­var says.

‘‘ They would ask Aus­tralians to buy a car that could be of a lower safety stan­dard, yet have a higher airbag count. That’s the shame.

‘‘ We’re ask­ing them to please come and jus­tify, with data from Aus­tralia, why they have a right to sec­ond-guess EuroNCAP. With fewer and fewer lo­cally made cars, what are they test­ing? And why would they dif­fer? EuroNCAP crash tests far more ve­hi­cles ev­ery year than ANCAP.’’

Re­nault has match­ing fives­tar rat­ings from NCAP and ANCAP for its Clio city car, which does not have rear airbags. That car was in­tro­duced be­fore the 2014 start date for a new ANCAP re­quire­ment for five-star cars. It’s part of a safety roadmap that tight­ens the re­quire­ments and de­mands ex­tra safety equip­ment for a five-star score in com­ing years.

Ho­ce­var aims to pro­mote the Cap­tur as a five-star ve­hi­cle, re­gard­less of the ANCAP score.

‘‘ From our point of view, the mes­sage is clear. We don’t want to mis­lead any­one,’’ he says. ‘‘( ANCAP) may take a view that the ve­hi­cle is down­graded but we will com­mu­ni­cate that it’s with the most rel­e­vant test­ing au­thor­ity.’’

Ho­ce­var also in­tends to con­firm to shop­pers that, in com­mon with the Clio, the Cap­tur was de­signed with­out rear airbags be­cause they are not needed to achieve five stars.

‘‘ We have not (re­moved fea­tures from) the Cap­tur. It was de­signed and built with a num­ber of airbags and it achieved the high­est pos­si­ble safety rat­ing. A car with less ro­bust de­sign and con­struc­tion could have a bunch of airbags and not get five stars. That’s where cus­tomers are po­ten­tially be­ing mis­led.’’

Ho­ce­var says he could avoid an ANCAP con­fronta­tion by bring­ing the Cap­tur’s Aus­tralian on-sale date for­ward to the end of this year.

‘‘ I could just stick one on a plane, bring it out and then tell them it’s been launched,’’ Ho­ce­var says. ‘‘ But I’mnot go­ing to put the launch of the ve­hi­cle ahead of sched­ule just to get a bet­ter ANCAP score, when I think it’s so mis­guided.’’

Crunch time: Re­nault’s Cap­tur gains the top

EuroNCAP rat­ing in May

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