How we test cars Stability control

  • Watch the video of the Citroen Nemo Multispace rolling over
  • The importance of ESC
  • Models without stability control
  • The price of ESC options

Citroen Nemo Multispace rollover

A Which? test in conjunction with the German Automobile Association (ADAC) has highlighted a serious safety risk with a trio of identikit small MPV vehicles from Citroën, Fiat and Peugeot.

 

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Citroën Nemo Multispace rollover

The Citroën Nemo Multispace rolled over in our testing

When the Citroën Nemo Multispace was driven through the emergency obstacle avoidance manoeuvre (sometimes known as the ‘elk test’) at 50mph, it rolled over onto its roof. Peugeot confirmed that its Bipper Tepee would share the same critical handling characteristics, although we did not repeat the test for safety reasons. 

Conversely, the virtually identical Fiat Qubo MPV fitted with stability control passed through the manoeuvre at a higher speed (56mph) without incident. 

Thankfully, electronic stability control (ESC) is now standard on all three models. It used to be an optional extra on most diesel versions of the Qubo and wasn't offered at all on early petrol Qubos. Without ESC, we would expect the Fiat Qubo to behave similarly to the Citroën and Peugeot models. The specification is virtually identical, so again, we did not test the non-ESC Qubo for safety reasons.

The Citroën Nemo Multispace and Peugeot Bipper Tepee, when launched, could not even be ordered with ESC, even as an option, but have it fitted as standard now. If you're buying used, be very careful. 

What is electronic stability control? 

Fiat Qubo

The ESC-equipped Fiat Qubo handled our test without incident

Stability control is a device that can brake individual wheels to correct a skid and maintain the drivers’ desired course. 

It’s particularly effective in emergency lane-change manoeuvres where the steering wheel is turned one way then rapidly turned in the opposite direction - such as if you swerve to avoid an accident on the motorway. This is exactly what the Which?/ADAC 'elk test' replicates.

Which? believes all cars should be fitted with stability control as standard, as research by the Department for Transport has shown ESC-equipped vehicles are involved in 25% fewer fatal road accidents than non-ESC cars. Euro NCAP awards additional points for cars fitted with standard ESC. 

Standard ESC is on the way

The European Commission has made ESC mandatory for all new cars type-approved after November 2011, and for existing model ranges it must be standard by 2014.

However, a surprising number of current models are still not available with ESC, or offer it only as an option with varying prices across manufacturers and models.
Perodua Myvi

The Perodua Myvi is one of one eight models you cannot have ESC fitted throughout the range

 

Which? has identified 62 mainstream cars that are not offered with ESC, even as an option. Its omission may be excusable on the quirky Renault Twizy electric quadricycle, but not on the other cars on our blacklist (see table, below). 

Not all of these cars are budget superminis, either. Several versions of the Nissan Note family MPV don’t offer ESC, nor any petrol-engined Dacia Duster, and nor is it available on any version of the Suzuki SX4. 

Since no versions of the Nissan Pixo, no Peroduas or Protons, and no Suzuki Jimny or SX4 models offer ESC, we’ve made them all Don’t Buys.

ESC blacklist
ModelClassTotal models without ESC
Chrysler YpsilonSupermini1/9
Dacia DusterSUV2/6
Hyundai i10Supermini1/5
Mazda 2Supermini5/9
Mitsubishi ColtSupermini7/9
Nissan NoteMPV6/10
Nissan PixoSupermini1/1
Perodua MyviSupermini8/8
Proton Gen-2 hatchbackMedium car7/7
Proton Gen-2 Persona saloonMedium car4/4
Proton Satria NeoSupermini2/2
Proton SavvySupermini2/2
Renault ClioSupermini2/22
Renault TwizySupermini3/3
Suzuki AltoSupermini2/4
Suzuki Jimny4x4/SUV3/3
Suzuki SplashSupermini3/5
Suzuki SX4MPV5/5

Table notes

ESC omission may be excusable on the quirky Renault Twizy electric vehicle, which is classed as a quadricycle and not a car.

Toyota Aygo

You'll have to pay £965 to have ESC fitted to the entry-level Toyota Aygo

The ESC option list

Our ESC option list includes all different models that have all or some derivatives where electronic stability control is an add-on you can select.

Some of the most expensive, including the Toyota Aygo, Peugeot 107 and Citroen Berlingo Multispace, are all examples where ESC is part of a wider option pack, meaning you have to opt in for a range of ad-ons just to have the inclusion of the safety system.

And Ford charges £700 for ESC alone.

ESC option list
ModelClassOption price
Chevrolet SparkSupermini£360
Chrysler YpsilonSupermini£325
Citroën Berlingo MultispaceMPV£370-£600
Citroën C3Supermini£330
Citroën C3 PicassoMPV£370
Dacia DusterSUV£350
Fiat 500Supermini£320
Fiat PandaSupermini£315
Ford FusionMPV£700
Ford KaSupermini£325
Hyundai i10Supermini£365
Peugeot 107Supermini£250-£765
Peugeot 207 CCConvertible£210
Peugeot Partner TeepeeMPV£370
Renault ClioSupermini£315
Renault TwingoSupermini£425
Seat IbizaSupermini£360
Seat MiiSupermini£200
Skoda CitigoSupermini£300
Skoda FabiaSupermini£370
Skoda OctaviaLarge car£400
Skoda RoomsterMPV£370
Skoda Yeti4x4/SUV£420
Toyota AurisMedium car£360
Toyota AygoSupermini£370-£965
Vauxhall AgilaSupermini£465
Vauxhall CorsaSupermini£465
Volkswagen UpSupermini£400

Table notes

Some derivatives of models listed will be available with ESC as standard.

Which? says

ESC is an essential safety aid, with proven benefits. Which? believes it should be made standard for all new cars as soon as possible.

We’re challenging the makers who don’t fit it as standard to start doing so on all models now, rather than waiting until 2014. 

In the meantime, we strongly advise you to not buy any car without ESC.

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