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Euro NCAP urges manufacturers to think again after first whiplash test

Euro NCAP has released the first test results for its new whiplash test which will be included as part of the adult occupant protection part of the assessment from February 2009.

Whiplash tests were carried out on the front seats of 25 passenger cars and only five received Euro NCAP’s best score with a ‘good’ or green result.

These five cars were the Volvo XC60, Alfa Romeo Mito, Volkswagen Golf VI, Audi A4 and Opel Insignia. This green result reflects a state of the art performance in whiplash protection.

Euro NCAP noted the development strategies for the good performers, but sad it was concerned by the “surprisingly low number of seats receiving a good result, when these cars are newly available on the market”.

Eight seats of the same 25 were rated as ‘poor’ or ‘red’ meaning that the seat occupant has a significantly higher risk of developing a long term injury in the case of a low speed rear end collision. These cars were the Daihatsu Cuore, Citroen Berlingo, Hyundai i10, Citroen C5, Ford Kuga, Daihatsu Terios, Peugeot 308CC and the Suzuki Splash.

Some of the seats that received Euro NCAP’s worst result, with a ‘poor’ or ‘red’ score,
provided protection at the lower test severity, but yielded excessively at the higher test
severity leading to a zero score. An example of this performance is the Daihatsu Terios.

Three of the eight seats that achieved a ‘red’ result were from cars that were awarded
five stars in Euro NCAP’s adult occupant protection rating during 2008 before the whiplash test was introduced.

These cars were the Citroen C5, Ford Kuga and the Peugeot 308CC. If judged under Euro NCAP’s new rating scheme in 2009, the overall rating for these vehicles would be significantly affected by the low scores received in this test.

As from 2009, the new rear impact (whiplash) test will automatically be included as part of Euro NCAP’s first area of assessment adult occupant protection.

Of the 25 seats, 12 models received a marginal’ or ‘orange’ result, indicating that
although these seats incorporated some beneficial qualities, additional improvement
was necessary.

Euro NCAP said: “It is interesting to note that the price of the vehicle does not seem to be reflected in the performance of the seat. Both expensive and cheaper cars did well and not so well in this test. For example, the pro-active head restraints such as those equipped in the BMW X3 and the Mercedes Benz M-Class did not fully live up to their claims.”

Dr Michiel Van Ratingen, secretary-general of Euro NCAP said the importance of the safety tests had now been underlined with the release of the results.

He said: “A consumer would never know how a seat would perform without this test. Buying a five star award winner will not guarantee that you have a good seat that will protect you from a potential whiplash injury. Euro NCAP’s new test will certainly encourage manufacturers to think again about seat design.”

To download the full set of results from the first whiplash tests click here.

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