BMW’s 5-series has suffered a big upset in the latest Euro NCAP crash test results.
3 December 2004

BMW’s 5-series has suffered a big upset in the latest Euro NCAP crash test results. The Five required numerous modifications and a re-test to record a four-star result.Autocar revealed two months ago (21 September) that BMW was struggling to achieve a good rating for the Five, although at the time a spokesman claimed the testing was hampered by ‘inconsistencies’, and that it was expected to earn a five-star rating.

While rivals such as the Mercedes E-class, new Audi A6 and Saab 9-5 have all gained five stars, the 5-series needed improvements to the steering column, footrest, door trim, door latch, airbags and software. The Five also had to undertake both frontal-impact and pole tests twice in order to be classed as a four-star car.The modifications only affect cars built after the autumn 2004 test, so any built between the September 2003 UK launch and this summer would probably only score three stars. The pedestrian impact test threw up even more serious concerns. NCAP assessors slammed the company’s attitude, saying: ‘BMW needs to take the protection of pedestrians much more seriously.’

BMW’s 1-series followed its big brother Five’s lead in needing a re-test, although it eventually scored a full five stars after improvements to the airbags. BMW was again criticised over pedestrian protection, described as ‘dire’ by NCAP, scoring just one star out of four. The child protection rating was also poor, scoring three stars compared with the four scored by ten of the thirteen cars tested in this group.

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A BMW spokesman said: ‘Everything we design takes pedestrian safety into consideration, but it is also important to consider active systems that prevent accidents from happening in the first place.’

Euro NCAP chairman Claes Tingvall used the results to chastise car makers for not making design improvements that could save lives.

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Our Verdict

BMW 5 Series

The BMW 5 Series offers a compelling blend of all-round abilities, but wants specifying carefully

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week