A closer look at Global NCAP's Indian car crash tests

The Maruti Alto 800 is India's highest selling car. No matter how bleak the situation in the industry, Maruti churns out an astonishing number of Altos month after month. There are lakhs of people who own one, but if you were to ask them if safety figured anywhere in their list of priorities when buying the car, the answer to that would probably be somewhere between "didn't think about it" and "no". It's a relatively inexpensive car, and most of us have now accepted the fact that an affordable car cannot afford to be safe.

Which is why it comes as no surprise to us that the Alto 800, along with the Tata Nano, failed completely during the recent Global New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) tests. It so happened that Global NCAP flew down a total of five India-made hatchbacks late last year to ADAC's testing facility in Germany. These five cars included the Tata Nano, Alto 800, Hyundai i10, Ford Figo and the Volkswagen Polo. All cars that were shipped out were the most bare-basic versions that we can buy in India today, and unsurprisingly, none of them had any safety kit onboard. All cars were subject to a 40 per cent frontal collision that was offset towards the driver, at a speed of 64kph. There was also another basic safety test as prescribed by the UN, wherein the car is launched towards the obstruction at a speed of 56kph.