Car News

Euro NCAP speaks out on 2-Star Ford Mustang rating

Following the announcement by ANCAP yesterday that the Ford Mustang had scored just two stars in crash testing, Euro NCAP has spoken out.

THE FORD MUSTANG might be the only sports car to have been tested under stricter 2017 NCAP guidelines, placing emphasis on pedestrian safety and rear-seat occupant protection, but both ANCAP and Euro NCAP highlighted key issues. The main being the difference between “less wide ranging US consumer safety tests” and Ford’s decision not to feature “life-saving technology like Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) that is available even on the Ford Fiesta,” said Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research (EuroNCAP voice in the UK).

“We have not given a Two Star Euro NCAP rating to any of the top 10 car brands since 2008”, comments Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research. “This really bucks the trend. Car buyers are increasingly benefitting from improved safety functionality and features, and this applies equally to cars in the sports roadster category as to family cars. We have concerns about the Ford Mustang’s crash protection of adults and children which also makes it unsuitable for having rear passengers,” Avery said.

“What really concerns me,” continues Avery, “is that Ford has made a deliberate choice. The car has been designed to score well in less wide-ranging US consumer safety tests and only minor updates have been made to meet required European (pedestrian) safety regulations. This has resulted in poor adult and child protection scores and the high-tech radar collision warning system that is available to US consumers, not being available here in the UK. The Two Star Euro NCAP rating is the consequence.”

Speaking with Ford yesterday, Practical Motoring was told it believed it had performed well in key areas like adult occupant protection. But this is at odds with the findings of Euro NCAP and ANCAP. For instance, in the frontal offset test, the airbags of both the driver and passenger inflated insufficiently to properly restrain the occupants. In the full-width frontal test, a lack of rear seatbelt pre-tensioners and load-limiters meant that the rear passenger slid under the seatbelt, implying higher risk at abdominal injuries in real life accidents. In the side impact crash, the head of the 10-year dummy contacted the interior trim bottoming out the curtain airbag.

“Ford has said that a face-lifted Mustang will be available later this year with Pre-Collision Assist and Lane Keep Assist as standard. Euro NCAP expects to test the safety of this updated model when it is available on the European market,” Euro NCAP said. There is a suggestion that even if the refreshed Ford Mustang was re-tested that internal rules allow it to move only one star higher, Practical Motoring has contacted ANCAP for an answer on this.

It says this on the ANCAP website: “In general, ANCAP does not re-test vehicle models within the same model series unless changes that would affect the rating are introduced. In these cases, vehicles may either undergo new physical crash test(s) or ANCAP may use technical evidence to determine a revised rating”.

However, retesting of cars is something that Euro NCAP has regularly done, allowing car makers to modify their vehicles to ensure safer cars are being sold. The most famous example was the BMW 5-Series which, in 2004, was tested by Euro NCAP before its release and the results were “disappointing”. BMW then modified the vehicle and the subsequent re-test resulted in a five star score.

Opinion: There has been a lot of talk on the internet in relation to this story about stricter testing methodology that caused the Mustang to fail because it was an older model… this isn’t entirely true. From January 1 2018, ANCAP will align itself fully with Euro NCAP testing. So, until then, it’s able to interpret Euro NCAP results and determine a rating independently.

If you read the commentary from both Euro NCAP and ANCAP it wasn’t the lack of active safety equipment that caused the Mustang to crash to a two-star rating. Rather it was significant safety shortcomings, like airbags inflating insufficiently and a lack of pre-tensioners on rear seatbelt causing rear seat occupants to slide under the seatbelts. So, the issue is less about the testing methodology and more about the safety offered by the Mustang in a collision.

Question: …”A lack of rear seatbelt pre-tensioners and load-limiters meant that the rear passenger slid under the seatbelt, implying higher risk at abdominal injuries in real life accidents,” said Euro NCAP… so, should the Ford Mustang be recalled to have rear seatbelt pretensions fitted?

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober was born in the shadow of Mount Panorama in Bathurst and, so, it was inevitable he’d fall into work as a motoring writer. He began his motoring career in 2000 reviewing commercial vehicles, before becoming editor of Caravan & Motorhome magazine. He then moved to MOTOR Magazine before going freelance and contributing to Overlander 4WD, 4×4 Australia, TopGear Australia, Men’s Health, Men’s Fitness, The Australian, CARSguide, and many more.