We're always being told that size isn't everything. Now here's proof: Audi's big new 4x4, the Q7, has scored only four out of five in the latest EuroNCAP crash tests. Audi had previously made assurances that it would pass with flying colors.
The missing star is due in part to potentially dangerous intrusions into the footwells during offset front impacts in testing.
In the same round of tests the Citroen C4 Picasso, Mercedes-Benz B-class and Ford Galaxy were all awarded five stars. The Mazda 3 got four stars.
The Audi came in for heavy criticism. "Poor welding resulted in rupture of the footwell area. There was separation of the seam connecting the firewall to the footwell and failure of spot-welds in the footwell and its connection to the A-pillar... Structures in the dashboard presented a potential risk to the knees and femurs of the driver."
Audi reacted quickly to the announcement of the result, saying it has already made changes to the Q7 to strengthen the area in question.
The Q7 also got four out of five for child protection. EuroNCAP said that "the label warning against the use of a child restraint [in the front passenger seat] did not meet requirements." But there was better news in the side-impact and pole tests - the Q7 scored maximum points.
The front bumper also scored a top result for pedestrian's lower legs, but the bonnet scored no points – leading to a middling two out of four total for pedestrian safety.
Audi isn't the first major manufacturer to experience disappointing NCAP results. In 2004 the BMW 5-series was awarded four stars, prompting BMW to modify it.