In the latest batch of tests, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Dacia Duster, DS 3, Ford C-Max, Ford Grand C-Max, Kia Stonic, MG ZS, Toyota Aygo and Vauxhall Viva all achieved three-star ratings in their standard forms. The Aygo increases to four stars and the Stonic to five stars with optional safety equipment fitted.
The Punto gained special attention from the body's secretary general, Michiel van Ratingen, who said: “The fact that older cars cannot compete illustrates the pace at which the vehicle industry is innovating safety and the willingness and ability of competitive manufacturers to meet the highest standards. Those who do not keep their cars up to the latest standards get left behind, as these results clearly show.”
The third-generation Punto was launched in 2005, making the car a twelve-year-old model. It wasn't replaced following the 2008 economic downturn upon Fiat boss Sergio Marchionne’s decision.
Continuing, van Ratingen said: “This is perhaps the strongest example of a manufacturer continuing to sell a product that is well past its best-before date at the expense of the unsuspecting car buyer. We would urge consumers to choose cars with the most up-to-date five-star ratings, many examples of which we have seen in 2017.”
Thatcham Research, the UK’s organisation responsible for Euro NCAP tests, explained that while the Punto’s result is the most shocking, the number of three-star results spell out a wider problem.
“Some great strides have been made in car safety this year; 72% of the cars tested achieved a five-star Euro NCAP rating, compared with 56% in 2016. But December’s test results have shown that some car makers are choosing not to fit potentially life-saving safety technology as standard, despite an overall trend to the contrary in 2017,” said Matthew Avery, Thatcham’s research director.
A Fiat spokesman said: “Safety is of the utmost importance to the FCA Group. When the Punto was launched 12 years ago, it was the first five-star Euro NCAP car in its class. The importance of safety to the FCA Group is demonstrated by the number of new models achieving five-star ratings, for example the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Alfa Romeo Stelvio and Jeep Compass.”
Dacia released the following statement about the safety of the new Duster: “The new Duster achieved a three-star safety rating – Dacia’s target. The Duster includes a host of safety equipment that has been upgraded since the previous model. Aiming for four or five stars would have meant equipping Duster with a range of recent driving aids and technology and that would have made the car more expensive and more complex to drive. That is not consistent with the vehicle’s positioning.”
Vauxhall clarified, explaining that upon launch, the Viva was a four-star car, but since then the car's lane-departure warning was made an optional extra, instead of standard, decreasing the car's rating in the process. The system now costs £165 as an extra.
Autocar is awaiting responses from manufacturers whose cars were rewarded three stars regarding these new NCAP ratings.