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Renault Espace named Europe's safest vehicle

A leading road safety group is urging EuroNCAP to introduce a sixth star after the latest round of crash tests revealed a lack of progress in developing pedestrian safety.

The RAC Foundation says carmakers should be offered an incentive to improve pedestrian safety, effectively merging the ratings for pedestrian and occupant safety. Kevin Delaney, traffic and road safety manager, wants the extra star to be awarded to carmakers who achieve the maximum four stars for pedestrian safety.

Under the current system, no vehicles would be awarded six stars. “As well as incentivising the carmakers, insurers should also take EuroNCAP ratings into account and charge higher premiums for cars that fair badly in the crash tests,” Delaney says.

The call comes after the new Renault Espace was awarded the highest-ever Euro NCAP rating of 35 points. It joins the Volvo XC90 (34 points) and the Toyota Avensis (34 points) in achieving five stars in the latest test phase of 14 new vehicles. But all three vehicles achieved poor pedestrian impact scores: Espace and the XC90 received two stars, the Avensis one.

The lowest result in the passenger protection test was achieved by the Espace's budget-priced rival, the Kia Sedona, with the testers pointing to the threat of head, leg and chest injuries to the driver and chest damage to the passengers. The passenger safety cell was 'overwhelmed' by the front impact test, says the report.

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