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Fiat accused of doing 'absolute minimum from a safety perspective'

Fiat Doblò in Thatcham Research's Euro NCAP test facility

Fiat faltered in the Euro NCAP safety ratings once again when its Doblò scored three stars in the same wave of testing that saw BMW’s new 5 Series gain a five-star result.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, said that Fiat was doing the “Absolute minimum from a safety perspective” following the Doblò's disappointing result, which followed recent three-star ratings for the Tipo and 500 hatchbacks.

Avery said: “This is another Fiat doing the absolute minimum from a safety perspective, with no AEB fitted. There are family vehicles out there which offer far greater levels of protection.”

Euro NCAP’s secretary general, Michiel van Ratingen, said: “Fiat’s line-up now features several cars that have been on the market for a long time and their safety is well behind the class leaders."

Thirteen years after tests on the original Doblò, Euro NCAP tested the 2015 facelift model that includes, apart from small safety updates, cosmetic upgrades aimed at extending the lifecycle of the car.

The latest generation Doblò - originally introduced in 2010 - is also sold by Opel and Vauxhall brands as Combo. 

Thatcham said that the three-star Euro NCAP safety rating, however, reveals the car’s true age and highlights the lack of ambition to compete on safety with other, more modern competitors in the segment.

In pedestrian safety tests the Doblò gained just one star from Euro NCAP.

The Opel/Vauxhall Combo has not received a similar facelift, it said, so would be expected to end up with even fewer stars, but Opel have their eyes fixed on the future.

Ratingen said: “Opel have made a clear decision not to implement the changes that Fiat made to get to a three-star rating, but instead have focussed their attention on a complete new Combo, that is being co-developed with Opel’s new owners, PSA, and which Euro NCAP expects to test early next year.

“In this release, however, BMW has led the way with a new 5 Series that features lots of driver assistance systems which Euro NCAP believes will transform safety in the years to come.”

More successful was the new BMW 5 Series.

Launched late last year, the seventh-generation BMW 5 Series continues its successful track record in Euro NCAP’s Executive Car segment showing good all-round performance in crash protection and avoidance tests thanks to its new platform, body and updated safety features.

Track tests demonstrated that the autonomous braking system can effectively assist the driver in avoiding or mitigating critical rear-end crashes with other cars and pedestrians.

With an 81% score, the 5 Series particularly impressed in pedestrian safety through its standard-fit “Person Warning” system and active bonnet, Thatcham said.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, however was disappointed by some aspects of the BMW’s performance in testing. He said: “Although the BMW 5 Series achieved a five-star rating, with a host of great active safety systems to avoid crashes and protect pedestrians, its passive performance was a concern.

“In the full-width frontal test, the driver’s knee airbag did not deploy correctly, allowing for potentially high forces on the knee, femur and pelvis.

“While we applaud the strides BMW has made in active safety, we hope that doesn't come to the detriment of its strong passive safety record.” 

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