Suzuki the biggest loser in a recent round of crash tests
Last Wednesday the Global New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) released crash test results for three vehicles under its Safer Cars for India campaign. The trio of models subjected to scrutiny are sold in SA too: Hyundai Grand i10, Kia Seltos and Suzuki S-Presso.
The results were alarming, with the Suzuki receiving a zero-star rating for adult occupant protection. The Hyundai earned two stars while the Kia mustered three.
Alejandro Furas, secretary-general of Global NCAP, pulled no punches in addressing the poor performance of the Japanese budget car, an increasingly popular model on local roads, with prices starting at R145,900.
“It is very disappointing that Maruti Suzuki, the manufacturer with the largest share of the Indian market, offers such low safety performance for Indian consumers,” he said.
According to the report by the organisation: “Its structure was rated as unstable and should be improved. Its footwell area was rated as unstable as well.
“The high readings in the passenger neck explain the zero-star result. However, chest loadings in both front passengers were high and in more updated protocols could also lead to a red chest and a zero stars for this reason as well.”
The S-Presso scored two stars for child occupant protection.
“Child occupant protection showed poor results for both child dummies in the dynamic test explained by the poor performance of the restraint systems. The car does not offer three-point belts in all positions as standard and has no Isofix anchorages for the Child Restraint Systems (CRS).”
Furas stated that products from fellow domestic manufacturers Mahindra and Tata showed high levels of safety and called on Maruti Suzuki to provide the same.
The version of the S-Presso sold locally differs to the specification of the model that was tested. Responding to an e-mail inquiry this week, Toni Herbst, media liaison at Suzuki Auto SA said: “The vehicle tested is the lower grade variant in India, with one airbag and no seat belt pre-tensioners. All South African variants are equipped with dual front airbags and front seat belt pre-tensioners as standard.”
Consumers would be justified in wondering if the result would have been significantly better had the crash test unit featured these two items.
Though concerns from Global NCAP pertained to the structural integrity of the vehicle, the official view of the car maker is that the local model’s “level of occupant safety is therefore completely different and not directly comparable”.
The Automobile Association (AA), a partner to Global NCAP and its Safer Cars for Africa undertaking, acknowledged the zero-star rating, but said that it would be unfair to comment on the results since it had not yet tested the model that is sold locally.
In 2019 three vehicles were tested under the Safer Cars for Africa banner. For adult occupant protection, four stars had been awarded to the Honda Amaze and Toyota Avanza, while the Suzuki Ignis received three.
“We obviously note the results achieved in India and are concerned about these results as we would want to see higher safety rated vehicles available in all markets,” said Layton Beard, public relations manager.
“We are not in a position to comment yet as to whether this particular vehicle will be tested for Safer Cars for Africa going forward, this will be something we will discuss when the current round of testing is complete and results of those tests have been released.”
The Hyundai Grand i10 (dubbed additionally as the Nios in India) scored two stars for adult and child occupant protection.
The test vehicle was equipped with dual frontal airbags, front seat belt pre-tensioners and anti-lock brakes. However, it did not have Isofix anchorage points – according to the local Hyundai website our Grand i10 has this feature, right from the entry-level Motion model grade (R191,900).
“We have no comment,” said Deon Sonnekus, general manager: corporate communications for Hyundai Automotive SA.
The Global NCAP report read: “Its structure was rated as unstable. Its footwell area was rated as unstable. Head and neck protection for adult occupants was good.”
“Refusing to recommend a CRS for the test raises questions about the car manufacturer policy and relevance towards child occupant protection for the Indian market. The three-year-old dummy showed poor protection for the head due to excessive forward excursion of the head during the crash and a limited chest protection.”
The Kia Seltos achieved three stars for adult occupant protection and two for child occupant protection. “Its structure was rated as a borderline case unstable” and “its footwell area was rated as unstable,” according to Global NCAP.
“Head protection was adequate for both front passengers as both airbags bottomed out during the crash test. Neck protection for adult occupants was good. Chest protection was good for passenger and marginal for driver.”
Once again, Isofix, while standard on the local car (priced from R391,995) was omitted on the test vehicle. Nor did it have side and curtain airbags, which the South African Seltos has across the range.
“Kia Motors SA has no official comment regarding Global NCAP results at this point in time,” said Christo Valentyn, general manager: marketing. “We are awaiting more information from Kia Motors India, and will only comment once that is in hand.”