See What Zero-Star Safety Ratings in Crash Tests Look Like

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In an era where technological advancements have significantly raised the bar for automotive safety, it’s a commonly held belief, particularly among Baby Boomers, that modern vehicles are inherently safer than their predecessors from the 1960s and 1970s. This notion, while largely accurate, does not imply that all contemporary cars are created equal in terms of safety. Recent assessments have revealed startling disparities, underscoring the fact that not all vehicles offer the same level of protection to their occupants.

One striking example is the Mitsubishi Express van, which in 2021, notoriously became the only model since 1993 to receive a zero-star rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP). This dubious distinction was not to remain exclusive for long, as the MG 5 and Mahindra Scorpio have also recently joined this list of poorly rated vehicles according to ANCAP’s rigorous testing standards.

The MG 5, despite its aesthetically pleasing design, fell short in several critical safety aspects. The absence of a driver monitoring system or a child detection system might be overlooked by some, but its lack of seatbelt pre-tensioners and a center airbag—vital for preventing occupants from colliding with each other in a crash—raised serious concerns. The ANCAP crash report paints a grim picture of the MG 5’s safety performance. It highlighted that the driver’s chest deflection during the crash test exceeded acceptable limits, earning a ‘POOR’ rating. The dashboard’s structure was flagged as a potential injury risk, and protection for the upper legs was deemed ‘MARGINAL’. The lower leg protection was rated as ‘POOR’, further tarnishing the vehicle’s safety reputation.

The Mahindra Scorpio’s evaluation was equally concerning. A significant safety gap was identified in its third-row seating, which lacks side head-protecting airbags—a critical feature in modern vehicle safety. The ANCAP test focused on the six-seat version, but there’s also a seven-seat variant available in New Zealand, which worryingly offers only a lap belt for the center second-row passenger. The Scorpio’s front structure was found to present a high risk to occupants of an oncoming vehicle in the MPDB test, which assesses vehicle-to-vehicle compatibility. This led to the imposition of a maximum 8.00 point penalty. The full width frontal test results were mixed: while the driver dummy’s chest protection was rated as ‘WEAK’, other critical body areas were marked ‘GOOD’. However, the protection for the rear passenger’s head, neck, and chest was classified as ‘POOR’, based on dummy readings and high seatbelt loads.

These findings underscore a vital aspect of modern automotive safety: advancements in vehicle design and technology have indeed made cars safer than ever before. However, this progress is not uniformly distributed across all models and manufacturers. The discrepancies in safety ratings among different vehicles highlight the importance of rigorous testing and continuous improvement in safety features. Consumers, now more than ever, must be discerning when selecting vehicles, considering not just aesthetics and performance, but prioritizing safety above all.

As the automotive industry continues to evolve, with electric vehicles and autonomous driving technologies on the rise, the focus on safety becomes increasingly paramount. The lessons learned from the ratings of vehicles like the MG 5 and Mahindra Scorpio serve as a reminder that safety standards must continually adapt and improve to safeguard the lives of drivers and passengers alike. In this dynamic landscape, the role of regulatory bodies like ANCAP becomes crucial in guiding consumers towards making informed decisions and pushing manufacturers to adhere to the highest safety standards.

In summary, the saying “they don’t build them like they used to” isn’t entirely precise, as previously illustrated in this article “Old Car Crash Test Challenges the Notion of ‘Old is Gold.” However, it serves as a crucial reminder. As we applaud the strides made in automotive safety, we must stay alert and knowledgeable about the diverse safety levels provided by various vehicles on the market. Our dedication to safety should be steadfast, transcending mere compliance with standards, and fundamentally anchored in valuing and protecting human life.