Currently reading: Indian cars are unsafe, says Global NCAP
Best-selling Indian cars score no stars on Global NCAP safety tests; Volkswagen withdraws Polo variant in response
Darren Moss
2 mins read
31 January 2014

Some of India's top-selling cars are not safe to drive, according to the results of recent Global NCAP safety tests.

The safety organisation tested some of India's best-selling cars, including the Tata Nano, Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800, Ford Figo, Volkswagen Polo and Hyundai i10. The combined sales of those models alone accounted for 20 per cent of the country's new car sales in 2013. None of the cars subjected to NCAP's 40mph front impact test scored even a single star rating.

Global NCAP tested the entry-level versions of each model, meaning that none came with airbags as standard.

Official safety reports on the Alto 800, Nano and i10 concluded that even with airbags fitted, their stuctural weaknesses were such that there were "high risks of life-threatening injuries" to drivers. The Figo and Polo had structures that remained stable, with Global NCAP noting that protection for drivers and passengers would be "much improved" with the addition of airbags.

Officials within the group say that the cars tested represent levels of safety that "are 20 years behind the five-star standards now common in Europe and North America". Global NCAP also noted the absence of common safety features like airbags are "putting the lives of Indian consumers at risk".

Responding to the test results, Volkswagen has withdrawn its non-airbag Polo variant from sale in India. An airbag-equipped version of the Polo was also tested, scoring four stars for adult protection.

The same cars were also tested against the UN's basic crash test, a standard that's applied in markets including Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia and the EU. The standard, which includes a 40 per cent offset front impact test at 35mph, is not yet applied in India. All the cars barring the airbag-equipped Polo failed the test.


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31 January 2014
So in other words Polo in the third world countries offers only a fraction of safety and quality as it does in Europe.

31 January 2014
The Figo is essentially a rebadged and facelifted version of the previous generation Fiesta which was launched in Europe in 2001 and had a Euro NCAP rating of 4 when it was tested in 2002. The Polo is the same Mk 5 version we get and which received a Euro NCAP rating of 5 in 2009. The i10 is the very recently replaced previous model we had and which received 4 stars from Euro NCAP.

Either Global NCAP tests are more stringent than Euro NCAP, the goalposts for Global NCAP have changed or the Indian versions of the cars we had/have are significantly re-engineered.

31 January 2014
wow, such different results from the euro versions with airbags. Surely the manufacturers haven't downgraded the engineering of their well-established models for this market - so would the i10 and Figo have done so much better if they were also equipped with airbags? And WHY is the Polo worse - is this because the tests applied in India are tougher than the 2009 Euro version?

31 January 2014
Almost every car manufacturer engineers their cars differently for different markets, and most engineer crash safety for independent crash tests rather than safety. Japanese cars in China are considered unreliable rust buckets. VW USA is considered no better than Ford or GM. It would be so easy for manufacturers to omit airbags, boron steel bracing, fit lesser crumple zones etc and have models look and drive in a superficially similar manner.

Just look at the difference in NCAP rating between mk5 and mk6 Golfs, one which has been optimised better for Euroncap tests than the other, despite being essentially the same car underneath.

31 January 2014
I'm surprised, as another poster said, as most of these cars are warmed over last-generation 'Western'/EU market vehicles (last Fiesta, i10, Polo).

Surely an airbag wouldn't change a car from 0 to 4 stars? Are they emitting side impact bars? Lesser quality welding? Poorer quality steel etc?

My first car, a Clio built 20 years ago and driven 10 years ago, didn't have an airbag. Would probably get a 0 score if it was tested now, but for cheap, basic transportation it was fine - and I'd say that for most buyers in the subcontinent that is what the above cars tested would represent.

31 January 2014
Cheap, basic transport does not have to be unsafe. The 2013 Dacia Sandero (cheap, basic transport) won a 4 star Euro Ncap rating (it scored 80% for adult occupant safety), good enough, I think, to be considered reasonably safe, by current standards. I tried to include a link here, to the Ncap result but, the spam filter wouldn't allow it.

31 January 2014
To be fair, didn't India promote cars like the Nano to get people off their mopeds? The only possible way to achieve this is by making cars as cheap as possible so in that respect, rather than compare their cars to world-wide ncap standards, they should be comparing them to mopeds. If a Nano is safer than the moped it replaces, the above seems a rather pointless exercise. The worlds cheapest new car fails to meet standards the worlds most expensive car gets judged by... shock, horror.

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