Safety own goal

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Carsguide Confidential - Twit­ter: @JoshuaDowl­ing

AUSTRALIA’S crash test author­ity ANCAP de­liv­ered an­other own goal this week, mak­ing it even more con­fus­ing for buy­ers want­ing to know a car’s true safety score.

The Re­nault Cap­tur SUV scored five stars de­spite hav­ing just four airbags (and no airbag cov­er­age for back seat pas­sen­gers) while the Suzuki Cele­rio hatch re­ceived a fourstar rat­ing de­spite hav­ing six airbags (giv­ing front and rear airbag pro­tec­tion) and per­form­ing bet­ter in a crash than the five-star rated Mit­subishi Mi­rage.

The in­de­pen­dent crash test author­ity, which is funded mostly by tax­pay­ers, made it eas­ier for less safe cars to earn a five-star safety rat­ing from Jan­uary 1, af­ter it bowed to pres­sure from the car in­dus­try and Euro NCAP (which has weaker stan­dards for side im­pacts and off­set frontal crashes).

With­out a hint of irony, ANCAP is­sued a state­ment this week high­light­ing the benefits of side airbags in the four-star Suzuki, even though it has just ap­plied a five-star rat­ing to a Re­nault which lacks airbags in the rear.

“Side cur­tain airbags are a vi­tal safety fea­ture, par­tic­u­larly ef­fec­tive in re­duc­ing the chance of se­ri­ous head in­jury in side im­pacts,” ANCAP chair­man Lauch­lan McIn­tosh said.

“ANCAP has put pres­sure on man­u­fac­tur­ers to in­clude head­pro­tect­ing side airbags for many years, in­tro­duc­ing this as a manda­tory 5-star re­quire­ment in 2004,” he con­tin­ued.

What ANCAP ne­glected to men­tion is that it qui­etly re­moved this airbag re­quire­ment on Jan­uary 1 for back seat oc­cu­pants.

Had the Re­nault Cap­tur been launched late last year as planned, it would have scored four stars. Had the Suzuki Cele­rio been launched late last year as planned, it would have scored five stars.

Suzuki says if the Cele­rio had just one safety ac­ces­sory from a list of 40 items — such as day­time run­ning lights, emer­gency brak­ing lights or au­to­matic head­lights — it would have scored a higher rat­ing than the five-star Mit­subishi in the same class.

In the mean­time, car buy­ers are none the wiser. The ques­tion must be asked: should tax­pay­ers be fund­ing such a flawed rat­ing sys­tem?

Crunch time: Re­nault Cap­tur

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