Crash-test results published today show the 2008 Nissan Navara pick-up has scored just one star for how it protects people inside it.
The Navara’s one-star score – with the star struck through to indicate a high risk of potentially fatal injury – is the result of a late-firing airbag, says the European crash test organisation Euro NCAP.
Testers also said an unstable passenger compartment, a ruptured footwell and a risk of foot injury from pedal movement contributed to the low score.
A score this low hasn’t been seen since the 1997 test of the Rover 100 (formerly Metro), which was subsequently withdrawn from sale less than two years later. That said, star ratings can only be compared within vehicle classes, so the Navarra’s safety is not directly comparable with that of the smaller Rover 100.
Safety ‘not a high priority’
The Navara’s result, says Euro NCAP, suggests safety is ‘not a high priority’ for pick-up manufacturers.
Dr Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP said: ‘Testing [pick-ups] becomes imperative when we realise they are no longer simply being used for the carriage of goods.
‘Manufacturers must realise we will test all cars that could have an impact on the safety of European consumers.’
Nissan service campaign
Nissan has reacted to the news with plans for a ‘service campaign’ (not a recall) to update the airbag control software in existing 2008 Navaras. All owners have been invited to visit their dealer to have the updated software applied to their vehicle.
The one-star struck-through adult occupant protection score doesn’t apply to pre-2008 Navaras because of a slightly different design, although all other aspects of the pick-up are similar. However, to reassure customers, Nissan has decided to call in all Navaras produced from the vehicle’s 2005 launch onwards.
Nissan has submitted a revised Navara for testing, although results for this car aren’t expected until late March 2008.
It is anticipated that this vehicle will score more highly than the current Navara, although this has yet to be confirmed by Euro NCAP.
Nissan Europe Senior Vice President Brian Carolin said: ‘When the issue of the slightly delayed airbag deployment on model year 2008 Navaras was identified we immediately developed a counter-measure.
‘We also initiated a service campaign, inviting all owners to have updated software applied to the airbag control unit of their vehicle, so that those owners can continue to use and enjoy the Navara in total confidence.’
Recall system ‘too weak’
Which? is disappointed that Nissan has not decided to issue a full safety recall for the remedial work. Senior researcher George Marshall-Thornhill said, ‘The Navara’s score is worryingly low. This is a vehicle which is partly intended for family use: tax legislation allows self-employed people to run pick-ups as commercial vehicles, which are not subject to benefit-in-kind taxation.’
‘Nissan’s decision to revise airbag software via a “service campaign” highlights the weaknesses of the current recall system in the UK. This type of communication is likely to miss second and third owners (those less likely to be listed on Nissan’s customer database) who may not be aware of the updated software.’
Euro NCAP has also published results for several other vehicles today, including the Mitsubishi L200 and Isuzu D-Max/Rodeo (both pick-ups), BMW X3, Citroën C5, Daihatsu Sirion, Renault Kangoo and Suzuki Splash. Visit Euro NCAP’s website for the full results.