The Ford Mustang has scored two stars in a Euro NCAP crash test, making it the first car from a large manufacturer to receive such a low score since 2008.
The American muscle car fared badly in frontal offset tests – where the car is impacted 40% off-centre – with its driver and passenger airbags described as “inflating insufficiently to properly restrain occupants”.
In full-width frontal tests, a crash test dummy in the back slid under its seatbelt, increasing the risk of injuries to the abdomen. NCAP said the car’s belt pre-tensioners and load-limiters didn’t work effectively enough.
Side-impact tests resulted in a crash test dummy that’s the size of a 10-year-old child hitting its head on interior trim, because the curtain airbag failed to provide enough cushioning.
The results in Europe highly contrast those in the US, where the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has awarded the Mustang the full five stars. Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen said the more basic specification of European cars was the reason for this difference.
“Ford did not expect Euro NCAP to test the Mustang and chose not to fit safety technology in Europe which is available to its American consumers and available on several other sports cars for that matter,” he said. “Such an attitude to safety should trouble Ford’s customers, whether they are buying a high-powered muscle car or a regular family car.”
Much of the safety features missing from European cars come in the form of driver assist technology, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB), which is available even on basic Ford models such as the Fiesta hatchback.
In an official response to the Euro NCAP results, a Ford spokesman said: “The Mustang is a safe car meeting, or exceeding, all applicable safety standards globally. The Mustang’s safety credentials are further demonstrated by the five-star NHTSA NCAP rating awarded in the US as well as a good Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rating.”
Ford is launching a facelifted Mustang for 2018, which will be available to order in Europe this September. Ford confirmed that the updated model will get several safety features, including pre-collision assist - with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning and AEB – as well as lane-keeping assist. However, it has yet to confirm whether that equipment will be standard or available as part of an options pack.
Euro NCAP plans to test this 2018 model when first customer cars arrive next year. “We welcome any improvement, of course, and look forward to publishing a new rating for the updated model,” said van Ratingen. “However, more fundamental updates may be needed if the Mustang is to get a significantly better result. We therefore hope Ford takes the opportunity to invest in the changes needed now for future Mustang generations.”