Kia, Jeep and Mercedes criticised over passenger safety
Euro NCAP’s crash test finds carmakers not paying enough attention to rear-seat safety
The Jeep Compass, Kia Picanto and Mercedes-Benz C-Class Cabriolet have come under criticism after Euro NCAP carried out a crash test on the vehicles.
A raft of new crash test results has been released by the independent safety experts Euro NCAP, but while there are many cars achieving the full five-star rating for safety, criticisms are being levelled at those not paying enough attention to rear-seat safety.
The Compass, which is Jeep’s attempt at creating a Euro-friendly Qashqai rival, was said by the NCAP testers to perform poorly on the side-impact test. According to NCAP, the car’s performance was good enough, just, to pass the test, but “below those [standards] which indicate an unacceptably high risk of life-threatening injury.”
In the same test, the new Picanto was said by NCAP to have “poorly protected” the chest area of a crash-test dummy representing a 10-year-old child. Unusually, given its track record in safety and crash-test innovation, Mercedes was also in NCAP’s crosshairs, again in the side-impact test. Apparently its rear-side airbag did not fully cover the roof frame, and the “head” of the child-sized dummy in the back of the car struck that frame, hard.
Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP said, “Euro NCAP is pushing for the fitment of advanced technologies and manufacturers have responded well, with autonomous emergency braking now commonplace on most new cars.
“However, they should not forget the basics of occupant protection in case of a crash. All occupants deserve to be equally well protected, whether they’re an adult driver or a child seated in the rear. The adoption of a 10-year-old child dummy in our test last year allows us to highlight areas for improvement, even in five-star cars.”
Mr van Ratingen did highlight another area where NCAP feels carmakers are letting customers down, and that’s in terms of rear seatbelt reminders. The electric Opel Ampera-e (a car which sadly won’t be sold on the Irish market) received a four-star crash-test rating, but was criticised for having no reminder for the rear seatbelts, NCAP feels that warning sounds for the rear belts are as important for those in the front of the vehicle, and pointed out that Opel also leaves rear belt reminders on the options list for the new Insignia saloon.
“It is very disappointing to see Opel do away with this simple, relatively inexpensive but life-saving technology. If occupants are not properly restrained, any additional means of protection are largely ineffective. We know how effective these reminders are at promoting seatbelt use, so this is clearly a big step backwards on Opel’s part” said van Ratingen.
NCAP also used the latest test results to emphasise how important it is for consumers to check the options list for extra safety kit. While the new Ford Fiesta was able to achieve a full five-star score in its standard form, the Kia Picanto and Rio could only achieve three-star scores unless fitted with optional extra safety equipment.