European car manufacturers have become obsessed with safety in recent years. Though occasionally derided — safer cars are usually more expensive and heavier, resulting in worse performance and higher emissions — it’s a laudable goal.
Some are so obsessed that they aim to ensure no-one dies or suffers serious injury in or by their cars.
The key driver for this is the European New Car Assessment Programme, or Euro NCAP.
When it started in 1997, no-one in the industry really took Euro NCAP seriously. The manufacturers even thought that the test was too harsh and no car could score a then-maximum of four stars.
That was until a huge swell of negative publicity surrounding the Rover 100’s abysmal one-star performance directly lead to the death of the car itself. We attended a recreation of this crash test earlier this year. It wasn’t pretty.
Manufacturers started to take it seriously. Soon they were reaching four stars regularly, and Euro NCAP began evolving its tests. The Rover should have been a nadir for car safety, but FIAT has managed to eclipse it. Its Punto supermini scored no stars at all.
That’s not to say that the Punto is worse than the Rover 100, but it failed for largely the same reasons. It’s an old car; aside from the odd nip and tuck, FIAT has been building it just the same for 12 years now. When Euro NCAP tested the Rover, it was already 20 years old, and the superficial addition of a single airbag (which didn’t work properly) did nothing to help.
Similarly Euro NCAP testing has evolved since 2005, but the Punto — which originally scored three stars when new — hasn’t.
In fact it did well enough to score two stars on most of the impact tests, which is still pretty poor, but not terrible. What let the Punto down was the total lack of electronic assists.
The old Punto doesn’t have space for the sensors and cameras of modern vehicles. This means no autonomous braking (AEB) system and no lane assist or warning system. Worse, it has no seatbelt reminder — a simple load-sensing mechanism — and that all adds up to a 0% score in the Safety Assist category.
As Euro NCAP requires cars to score a minimum value in all four categories to register a star rating, the Punto is not eligible for any stars at all.
You can see the Punto’s crash test video below:
The Punto’s revised score was part of a re-test of many small cars. As manufacturers choose to update older cars and extend their lifespan, so they risk getting left behind by newer, safer models. Indeed the FIAT was just one of seven retested cars to drop stars due to the lack of equipment required to score well by new standards.
Things will get worse for them as Euro NCAP evolves again next year. AEB will become a requirement in the Safety Assist category, so the FIAT may simply be the first of many no-star cars.
Euro NCAP secretary general, Michiel van Ratingen, comments:
Superminis like the new Polo, the Fiesta and the Ibiza now come with advanced safety technology as standard, offering the best in crash avoidance and crash protection. The fact that older cars cannot compete illustrates the pace at which the vehicle industry is innovating safety and the willingness and ability of competitive manufacturers to meet the highest standards. Those who do not keep their cars up to the latest standards get left behind, as these results clearly show.
This is perhaps the strongest example of a manufacturer continuing to sell a product that is well past its best-before date, at the expense of the unsuspecting car buyer.
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FIAT Punto Sets a New (and Unfortunate) Crash Test Record have 910 words, post on www.gtplanet.net at December 13, 2017. This is cached page on Talk Vietnam. If you want remove this page, please contact us.