Euro NCAP spots weaknesses in two best selling cars

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In Euro NCAP's pursuit to provide consumers with the most accurate and timely information concerning the safety of new cars, the organisation is releasing new test results for the Chevrolet Kalos, the Nissan Note, the Toyota RAV4 and the Land Rover Discovery III.

Recent Euro NCAP's tests have highlighted weaknesses in the safety systems of two of the four cars whose results are released today. In the Nissan Note, one of the ISOFIX mounts for the child restraints broke in Euro NCAP's side impact test. Following investigation of the failure, Nissan advised Euro NCAP that the ISOFIX child restraint mount was one from an early batch which was not welded correctly. Nissan has introduced a countermeasure and additional checks. They have also advised Euro NCAP that they intend to recall all affected cars to modify them.

With the Toyota RAV4, the car's airbags fired late during the frontal crash test. This was caused by the cable to a sensor becoming detached early in the impact. Toyota have changed the routeing of the wiring harness and modified the airbag control unit so that the airbags deploy at the correct time even if the sensor connection fails. A second frontal test, on a modified car, showed that the airbags deployed correctly, although the sensor cable was also damaged in that test. These modifications were introduced into production before Euro NCAP carried out its second test. However, Toyota has advised Euro NCAP that they do not intend to modify cars that have already been sold to the public.

Euro NCAP's Chairman, Claes Tingvall said, "Both of these cars have achieved a four-star rating. However, as new cars, we might have expected them to perform even better. It is worrying that Euro NCAP's tests revealed potential problems in cars which were already in production and on sale to the public. Nissan are to be congratulated for modifying cars already sold. We believe that all customers should expect to get their cars modified when such weaknesses have been discovered."

With regard to pedestrian protection, Euro NCAP is happy to see that the Toyota RAV4 has become only the second small off-roader to achieve a three-star rating. The Toyota rating is in contrast with that of the Land Rover Discovery which achieved only one star for its pedestrian protection. So far, no large off-roader has ever scored more than two stars.

Claes Tingvall said, "Honda's CR-V was the first off-roader to be awarded three stars for pedestrian protection. That was back in June 2002. I am pleased that Toyota have finally turned their attention to the problem and that the RAV4 has performed well. It shows how much additional protection can be given to pedestrians by relatively simple design changes. I urge other manufacturers to follow this lead."

The Chevrolet Kalos was the worst performer of the four cars reported on today, with a three-star adult occupant protection rating. However, the result is better than that of the Aveo, the results of which were released in February. Chevrolet had advised Euro NCAP that the Aveo was an improved version of the Kalos.

The ratings for these cars in more detail can be seen at www.euroncap.com. The complete test results will be available from 28th July 2006.

Euro NCAP's commitment to consumers ensures that test results are released as soon as possible. Keep checking our website for details of forthcoming results.

For further information please contact the Euro NCAP office: office@euroncap.com.


Summary of Results

Supermini:

Chevrolet Kalos
Adult Occupant Protection: 3 stars
Child Occupant Protection: 3 stars
Pedestrian Protection: 2 stars

Nissan Note
Adult Occupant Protection: 4 stars
Child Occupant Protection: 3 stars
Pedestrian Protection: 2 stars

Small Off-Roader:

Toyota RAV4
Adult Occupant Protection: 4 stars
Child Occupant Protection: 4 stars
Pedestrian Protection: 3 stars

Large Off-Roader:

Land Rover Discovery III
Adult Occupant Protection: 4 stars
Child Occupant Protection: 4 stars
Pedestrian Protection: 1 stars


Editors' notes:

1. With the introduction some time ago of the Child Occupant Protection rating it is important to refer to the Adult Occupant Protection rating correctly. In the past, this has been referred to as the "Overall" or "Occupant" rating. Neither of these is now satisfactory.

2. The front impact test is conducted at 64km/h (40mph) into an offset deformable barrier, the side impact test 50km/h (30mph), the pole test at 29km/h (18mph) and the pedestrian tests at 40km/h (25mph).

3. Comparison between Size Categories: It is essential that no attempt is made to compare the ratings between cars in different segments or mass groups. The frontal crash test aims to measure the performance of the car impacting another car of similar mass. There is no capability to determine what would happen if cars of widely different masses impact each other. It is not primarily the mass difference that has the effect, but the effect that mass has on the structural stiffness combined with the relative height of the structures from the ground.

Friday, July 28th, 2006

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