Mazda, Volvo SUVs unfazed by tougher test

A good outcome for the first cars subjected to tougher local crash test standards.

TOUGHENED crash test regulations have proven no barrier to the first two cars to test them, with both achieving exemplary safety scores.

Two sports utilities, the large Mazda CX-8 and compact Volvo XC40, have met newly introduced 2018 protocols set by the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP), which is the recognised national standard here, and both achieved results considered excellent.

The new rules bring ANCAP up to parity with the latest standard that has been introduced by a sister organisation, European NCAP.

These put greater emphasis on crash test severity and rewards for inclusion of latest crash avoidance technologies such as autonomous emergency braking and lane keep assist, which the Volvo and Mazda both have, emergency lane keeping (on the Volvo), blind spot and seat belt reminder.

The latest protocols are also more ‘real world’, with testing in 100 scenarios, including detecting and avoiding collision with other vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists in a number of positions and situations at day and night.

The revision logically means cars that achieved the maximum score count of five stars under the previous standard could well risk achieved degraded outcomes if they were to face the new level of scrutiny.

The XC40’s result is a score from NCAP that has been adopted by the Australasian programme – which has NZ Government funding and is also supported by agencies including the NZ Automobile Association.

The CX-8 result comes from direct Australian analysis, four examples being used to evaluate outcomes from individual full frontal, frontal offset, side impact and side pole impact exercises.

The seven-seater scored 96 percent for adult occupant protection – 36.7 points out of 38. Child protection was rated as 87 percent, while pedestrian protection was 72 percent. It received a 73 percent score in the upgraded safety assistance category.

The XC40 matched the CX-8 for child protection and scored slightly better for adult protection, with a 97 percent result. It also achieved a 76 percent safety assist score.

AA Motoring Services general manager Stella Stocks has expressed delight the first vehicles tested against the new standards have done so well.

“It's great to see Volvo and Mazda setting the new standard for vehicle safety,” she says.

“SUVs are a popular choice for families so it's fantastic that in both cases the vehicles were able to achieve high ratings when more thoroughly tested for child occupant safety.”

ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin said the hurdles have been raised significantly for vehicles tested in 2018.

“We now test and rate against four key pillars of assessment, and across these we have implemented a range of enhancements to encourage vehicle manufacturers to improve the active and passive safety elements of their models.”

“Most notably, we’re looking at the performance and effectiveness of active safety assist technologies, and the ability of a vehicle to protect a broader range of occupants, including children and females.

“Parents of young children will know that not all vehicles have the ability to safely fit child restraints in all seating positions. To assist, child restraint installation now forms part of each rating.

“We are assessing the correct installation of a range of commonly available restraints – from newborn to 10 years – in each of the rear seating positions, and six-year and 10-year child dummies now feature in our physical crash tests.”

The ANCAP five star applies to all Mazda CX-8 variants, but the XC40 rating applies only to all-wheel-drive variants as the front-wheel-drive T4 has not been tested.