Tests: Frontal offset, frontal, side impact deformable, side impact pole, whiplash sled test for chairs, pedestrian head impact, pedestrian upper leg impact, pedestrian lower leg impact, AEB city braking test (50km/h), AEB inter-urban test (80km/h), AEB pedestrian avoidance (60km/h), AEB pedestrian (walking out behind obstacle), AEB cyclist – perpendicular (45km/h), AEB cyclist (60km/h), lane support system (single car, side road markings), lane support system (oncoming car), lane support system (centre line road marking)
Right at the tail end of 2017, when the Fiat Punto scored a zero-star rating, there was a small ripple of attention and one or two jokes at Fiat’s expense. But in 2018, when the otherwise entirely loveable Fiat Panda supermini got a flatline score, the reaction was very strong, and very much directed against Euro NCAP. But why did Euro NCAP retest the Panda in the first place?
“Fiat has nothing new on the horizon,” says Aled. “We contacted other manufacturers who all said they have new cars on the horizon with AEB, but Fiat didn’t.
“It’s not fair on consumers to see a star rating from so long ago and not see that it’s actually so different to its modern rivals.”
So that’s it – Fiat’s selling a new car in 2018 that doesn’t stand up to the rigours of 2018 testing – without plans to modify the structure, nor fit more passive or active safety equipment. So in safety assistance – one of the four pillars of a five-star rating – the Panda and Punto register respective scores of seven and zero out of 100.
For the sake of argument, let’s set aside active safety in its entirety and compare the passive safety scores with the Volvo XC40, which gets a five-star 2018 rating. The Panda gets a 45/100 score for adult occupants and just 16/100 for child occupant safety, and the Punto gets a comparatively excellent 51/100 and 43/100 respectively. The Volvo XC40, on the other hand, gets 97/100 and 87/100 in the same tests. These aren’t the kind of differences that are easy to shrug off.
It’s not just Volvos, either – as of writing, you can get a Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Peugeot, Hyundai, Nissan, Audi, BMW, Volkswagen, Ford and Jaguar with a five-star 2018 rating.
But, Aled stresses, testing becomes more exacting and more involved with every year, and it’s best to compare apples with apples. A 2012 five-star car is not the same as a 2018 five-star car, and the pace of progress shows no signs of slowing.