Buying a new car? Go for safety and not only price
Only two out of 25 car models currently priced under R160000, vetted by the Automobile Association in South Africa, have "acceptable safety".
These are the Toyota Aygo 1.0 and the Nissan Micra 1.2 Visia+. Their score, in the 50- point range, is out of a possible 135 for vehicles with all of the safety features installed.
The AA hopes its research encourages "new car buyers to consider safety in their decisions and not only price".
The 25 vehicles surveyed for the latest instalment of the Entry-Level Vehicle Safety Report were evaluated against the number of active safety features they have - anti-lock braking systems, electronic stability control - and passive safety features, such as airbags.
Ten vehicles fall under the "poor safety" category and 13 vehicles were placed under the "moderate safety" category.
"Poor" status was given to the Renault Kwid 1.0 Expression, Kia Picanto 1.0 Start, Datsun Go+ 1.2 Lux, Kia Picanto 1.2 Start, Hyundai i10 1.1 Motion, Cherry QQ3 0.8 TE (aircon), Datsun Go 1.2 Mid, Tata Indica 1.4 LGi, Tata Visit a 1.4 Ini Bounce and Tata Manza 1.4 Ini.
"A commendable finding, however, is that 11 of the 25 identified vehicles have ABS and electronic brake-force distribution installed, a positive step towards increasing the overall safety of vehicles," the AA said.
The association urged motor manufacturers to prioritise safety in vehicles produced for the South African market.
"We call upon motor manufacturers to consider substituting luxury or convenience specification items with safety items. We believe this consideration must be weighed against the inexperience of the typical drivers of these vehicles, and the need to protect them against traffic hazards to the greatest extent possible," the AA said.
It noted: "A significant finding of the report is that none of the vehicles under investigation comes equipped with electronic stability control. South African road conditions are often affected by poor drainage, resulting in sand and debris on the road surface and, in turn, increasing the chances of a vehicle without ESC losing control, and being involved in a crash. Considering ESC's life-saving potential, it is critical to ask if this specification should not be a minimum safety standard."
The AA report offered this cautionary advice: "Make sure the vehicle model you intend buying comes with the safety features that are specific to that model."