Euro NCAP dusts off safety priorities of well-known car brands

Euro NCAP has released the safety ratings for a range of new, but familiar branded cars entering the European market.

The Dacia Duster and Suzuki Swift score three-stars while, the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the Volkswagen Passat and its twin the Skoda Superb, and the Skoda Kodiaq, all achieve Euro NCAP’s top five-star award. BMW’s X2 and Renault’s Espace and Rafale are also rated as five-star twins to 2022-tested cars.

Dacia’s ‘no-frills’ sales strategy is well-known, the brand having previously shunned active safety technology in favour of affordability. Suzuki has long been a manufacturer of small, simple, and affordable cars. It then becomes no surprise that the Duster and the Swift emerge from Euro NCAP’s tests with no more than three stars.

However, legislation now insists that all cars must be equipped with autonomous emergency braking, emergency lane-keeping systems, intelligent speed limiters, and driver fatigue detection. The Duster and the Swift fulfil this obligation but do little more, despite having the technologies fitted.

For active safety, Euro NCAP says that its standards for five-star ratings are considerably higher than those of legislation. These cars’ occupant protection also shows limited ambitions, with similar, modest levels of adult occupant protection. For child occupant protection, Dacia’s Romanian-manufactured small SUV outperforms the tiny Swift, the latter providing protection that ranges from marginal to poor in some aspects of its performance.

The German and Czech offerings, by contrast, generally perform well across the board, the E-Class, Kodiaq, and Skoda -developed Passat/Superb twins collecting five stars apiece. All four are said by Euro NCAP to provide exemplary levels of occupant protection, the Passat and Superb offering good protection to all critical body areas of both adult and child occupants across in all four full-scale crash tests.

The E-Class sails close to the wind in terms of pedestrian protection: with only a fraction of a point for pedestrian pelvis protection, which according to Euro NCAP, left it uncomfortably close to losing a star against its latest protocols.

The BMW X2 is rated as five stars against 2022 protocols as a twin to the X1 and like the E-Class, offers only poor pedestrian pelvis protection. The Renault Espace and Rafale are also awarded 2022 ratings, as twins to the Austral in that year.

Dr. Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general Euro NCAP said: “This latest release reveals a growing split between the safety ambitions of different car brands. The difference in star ratings is partly due to the segments in which the cars compete, but Euro NCAP also believes it is a matter of a brand’s priorities.

“Some, like Mercedes-Benz, Skoda, VW, BMW, and Renault, are convinced of their customers’ commitment to safety and its higher worth in the product offering.

“For Dacia and Suzuki, the emphasis is on affordability, but consumers should be in no doubt that there are competitor vehicles to the Duster and the Swift available on the market, which offer considerably higher levels of safety. This is something you cannot put a price on.”