French firm's safety rating is downgraded as hatch is docked a star for inadequate seatbelt warning

Renault’s Mégane hatchback has been marked down to just three stars in the latest Euro NCAP crash test results because “the text informing the driver of the status of the rear seatbelts was not available in all languages”.

Euro NCAP admitted that this minor issue was enough to lose the Mégane a whole star, despite the car scoring 83 per cent for adult occupant protection. Renault is said to be addressing the issue “very soon”, which means a retest is likely in the next few months.

The move has highlighted the increasing importance placed by the Euro NCAP crash tests on such small details as well as on various new types of electronic assistance, such as speed limitation devices.

However, there is increasing evidence of friction between Euro NCAP and some car makers. Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP secretary general, recently criticised quadricycles such as the Renault Twizy and Ligier IXO.

“It’s worrying to find that, because crash safety tests are not required by law, quadricycles show a level of safety that is way below that of cars,” he said. “Even though they meet legislative standards, these vehicles lack the minimum safety equipment which has become commonplace on passenger cars sold in Europe.”

Renault exchanged public words of disagreement with NCAP in 2012 when the safety of the original Dacia Duster was criticised. “It is disappointing that a mother company like Renault does not give safety the same priority in Dacia cars as it does in cars sold under its own brand,” Euro NCAP said at the time. 

Dacia sources recently told Autocar that it believed the safety of its cars’ structures were at “a very high level” and that was the most important safety issue.

Insiders say Euro NCAP wants to see all car makers adopting a plan for all future cars to be fitted with increasingly sophisticated safety equipment such as auto city braking. However, the popularity of budget cars such as those made by Dacia could undermine this move as consumers become reluctant to pay extra for such features.

The MG3 also scored three stars, while the VW Golf SV received top marks.

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Our Verdict

Renault Megane

The Renault Megane looks bland, and it's not that good to drive either

Join the debate

Comments
27

1 July 2014
Its interesting that NCAP pick up on such fine detail as the text of a warning message, but do they have anything to say about the distractions caused by incorporating such things as climate control functions on central touch screens? Some of these have to be accessed through complicated menus and, for me, go against the principles of good ergonomics. Still, I guess that's why they're putting more emphasis on things such as city braking systems, to help out the driver who's busy looking at their central screen or mobile phone.

1 July 2014
marj , are you reading this? Renault isn't as safe as you think!

1 July 2014
winniethewoo wrote:

marj , are you reading this? Renault isn't as safe as you think!

I am Winnie, I hardly think a label will greatly affect the passive safety of the car's structure which has been proven to be safest in its class. However this is a fly in the ointment.

1 July 2014
marj wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

marj , are you reading this? Renault isn't as safe as you think!

I am Winnie, I hardly think a label will greatly affect the passive safety of the car's structure which has been proven to be safest in its class. However this is a fly in the ointment.

I believe the Megane is in the same class as the V40, so I cant see how its the safest in its class, when the V40 is/was at the time the safest car ever tested. 98% adult, 75% child, 88% pedestrian and 100% safety assist.

1 July 2014
...I would expect a much greater difference between a 3 and 4 star car than the presence of a multi language seat belt reminder. I had a look at the Megane's scores and compared them to the new Golf Sportsvan which is a 5 star car: Adult: 83% Megane / 87% Golf. Child: 78%/85%. Pedestrian 60%/62%. It's the safety assist section where the Megane's 48% is poor compared to the Golf's 73%. Clearly features to avoid an accident are very important, but have NCAP put too much emphasis on them?

1 July 2014
Will86 wrote:

...I would expect a much greater difference between a 3 and 4 star car than the presence of a multi language seat belt reminder. I had a look at the Megane's scores and compared them to the new Golf Sportsvan which is a 5 star car: Adult: 83% Megane / 87% Golf. Child: 78%/85%. Pedestrian 60%/62%. It's the safety assist section where the Megane's 48% is poor compared to the Golf's 73%. Clearly features to avoid an accident are very important, but have NCAP put too much emphasis on them?

Agreed; I think EuroNCAP's system might be confusing and potentially misleading for car buyers, since probably most people think that the number of stars only indicates the protection in a crash rather than the clarity/multi-language availability of seatbelt reminders, crash-avoiding technology etc etc...

 

- Follow your own star -

1 July 2014
I do think that the Euro NCAP is good for promoting safety in cars, but now they are increasingly forcing car makers to install more safety systems and devices to help prevent accidents just to make sure the car achieves a higher star rating. The main factor to reduce accidents is provide drivers of all vehicles with improved training methods for driving, so that the driver will actually become more aware of potential accidents or incidents that could occur instead of relying on the safety systems to save lives. The safety systems add more and more complexity to the cars electronic systems and potentially more of a safety hazard with potential electric problems and fires. The extra safety systems and methods to increase the strength of a vehicle also add considerably to the mass of the cars (compare the mass of a Golf 7 to a Golf 1, about 500kg difference). Most of the dangers with crashes are when travelling at high speeds, the best would be to reduce speed limits to manageable levels.

1 July 2014
Rolf wrote:

Most of the dangers with crashes are when travelling at high speeds, the best would be to reduce speed limits to manageable levels.

Managable for whom? For some, 120 will be manageble while others may pose danger at 20. I agree with the previous poster that driver's training is the key to road safety.

1 July 2014
Docked a star because the warning is not available in all languages? My Ford Focus gets top marks. It has the Sony Navigation system as std equipement, I've used the car for 6 months and I'm still confused as hell on how to operate the damn thing. Use the steering wheel controls you say? Would that be the the one where you have to depress and hold the search key for 2 secs when you want a radio station that hasn't been pre-set? Or perhaps use voice control... the system that is set up for English but apparently can't decipher English. Modern technology in cars is an accident waiting to happen... something NCAP seem oblivious to.

1 July 2014
Never mind the detail of the seatbelt warning, fact is, this car slipped from the 4 star rating it would otherwise have scored.
The question is, why didn't it score 5 stars to begin with? Have Renault lost the plot on safety or is EuroNCAP getting silly with its requirements?

Aside from cost and complexity, auto-braking etc, can't be a bad thing surely?

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Jaguar XF Sportbrake TDV6
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The handsome Jaguar XF Sportbrake exhibits all the hallmarks that makes the saloon great, and with the silky smooth diesel V6 makes it a compelling choice
  • Volkswagen T-Roc TDI
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    Volkswagen's new compact crossover has the looks, the engineering and the build quality to be a resounding success, but not with this diesel engine
  • BMW M550i
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The all-paw M550i is a fast, effortless mile-muncher, but there's a reason why it won't be sold in the UK
  • Volvo V90
    First Drive
    19 October 2017
    The Volvo V90 is a big estate ploughing its own furrow. We’re about to see if it is refreshing or misguided
  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals