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.
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