New MPVs score well in crash testsFive-star safety for Citroen and Ford MPVs

28 September 2006

On the opening day of the Paris Motor Show, Euro NCAP has released crash-test results for five new cars, including the two latest MPVs from Citroen and Ford, the Audi Q7 off-roader, Mazda 3 and Mercedes B-class.

cars MAZDA-3 Front

Mazda 3 scored four stars

All five cars have scored well overall, but there are a few areas to watch out for on specific models, as our round-up shows.

 

Citroen C4 Picasso (MPV)

Adult occupant protection (out of 5): 5 stars

This seven-seat MPV takes on some established family favourites, so will be boosted by its five-star crash-test score.

A driver's knee airbag is standard, but for both driver and front passengers some of the structures in the C4 Picasso's dashboard could still cause leg injuries in severe cases.

The seat-belt reminder system (front and rear seats) isn’t very clear for rear occupants.

Child occupant protection (out of 5): 3 stars

For child protection, the front passenger airbag can be disabled by a switch, but the information about whether the airbag is active or not is unclear. There are Isofix mountings (with top-tether) in the front passenger seat and in all three middle-row seats, and you are best off using them as the front crash caused the rear-facing seat to tip forward, exposing the child to unacceptable risk of head injury as it contacted the back of the front seat.

Pedestrian protection (out of 4): 2 stars

The front bumper scored well for pedestrian protection, but parts of the bonnet where an adult's head is likely to hit are very pedestrian-unfriendly.

 

Ford Galaxy (MPV)

Adult occupant protection: 5 stars

The new incarnation of Ford’s largest MPV shows it’s ideal for safely ferrying around adults and children.

Knee airbags protect the driver’s legs in a front crash, and protection is generally good for both driver and passenger. In the side impact tests, head and side protection airbags worked well, giving the Galaxy maximum points.

Child occupant protection: 4 stars

For carrying small children in the front you’ll have to order the optional ‘passenger airbag deactivation switch’ from the dealer when you buy. We think this should be a standard feature, especially since it is now not just ill-advised, but illegal to use a rearward-facing child seat in front of an active airbag.

Pedestrian protection: 2 stars

The Galaxy scored reasonably well for pedestrian protection, with some ‘cushioning’ evident in the bumper and areas of the bonnet.

 

Audi Q7 (off-roader)

Adult occupant protection: 4 stars

Audi will be disappointed not to have achieved a five-star score for its large, luxurious off-roader, which lost points in a couple of areas.

cars AUDI-Q7 Front

Q7 had some weak spots

In the front crash test the car’s footwell ruptured, exposing front occupants to a risk of injury. Stiff structures in the dashboard could also cause severe leg injuries.

The seat-belt reminder system (for the driver and front passenger) also isn’t loud and clear enough to meet Euro NCAP’s requirements.

However, the Q7 scored maximum points for its protection in side-on crashes and the seat-mounted side airbags and head-protecting curtain airbags worked well.

Child occupant protection: 4 stars

Although it scored well for child protection, the Q7 doesn’t seem to be targeting buyers with young children — you can’t deactivate the front-passenger airbag, which means it’s illegal to carry a rearward-facing child seat in the front.

Pedestrian protection: 2 stars

In an accident with a pedestrian, the Q7’s bumper offers some protection to the legs of pedestrians. However, the leading edge of the bonnet isn’t quite so kind, which limits the Q7’s score to two stars.

 

Mazda 3 (medium car)

Adult occupant protection: 4 stars

The Mazda 3 is up against some small hatchback rivals with impressive safety scores, so it would have hoped for the full five stars.

In fact, it did score enough points overall to qualify for a five-star rating, but its performance in the front crash didn’t meet the minimum requirements for a five-star car, limiting it’s overall score. The front passenger is exposed to a risk of knee, leg and pelvic injury from stiff structures in the dashboard.

Front and rear seat-belt reminders all meet Euro NCAP’s requirements.

Child occupant protection: 3 stars

For younger occupants, the ‘passenger airbag deactivation switch’ – which we think should be standard – must be ordered as a dealer-fit option. This isn’t very proactive for a family car. The two outer rear seats have Isofix mounting points, although they aren’t clearly marked.

Pedestrian protection: 2 stars

For pedestrians, the bumper scored no points and is likely to cause lower leg injuries, while the bonnet leading edge was also quite aggressive.

 

Mercedes-Benz B-class (medium car)

Adult occupant protection: 5 stars

The B-class competes with medium cars and five-seat MPVs, so its five-star score will be reassuring for family buyers. However, in the front crash, stiff structures in the dashboard could still cause injury to the driver’s knees and upper leg.

The B-class scored maximum points in the side impact and tests, and there’s an effective seat-belt reminder system for both front and rear occupants.

Child occupant protection: 3 stars

For small children, there’s an optional child-seat recognition system available which automatically disables the airbag for the front passenger's seat position if the seat is installed. But this isn’t standard and without it you can’t disable the airbag – so you can’t use a rearward facing seat in the front. The warning label about this doesn’t meet Euro NCAP’s requirements. There are Isofix mounting points on both outer rear seats, but labelling of these is also unclear.

Pedestrian protection: 2 stars

The bumper scores maximum points for pedestrian lower-leg protection, but the bonnet top and front edge presents a risk of serious injury to pedestrians.