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Why is ANCAP claiming success with 43 out of 45 cars rating 5 star?

ANCAP is claiming safety success with 43 of the 45 cars it assessed in 2016 rating as five-star cars, but why because not all five-star cars are equal…

ANCAP IS CLAIMING a safety win with 43 out of the 45 cars it assessed in 2016 realising a five-star rating. And, in its press release yesterday suggested car buyers looking to buy the safest cars on the market should be looking for either a 2016 or 2017 date stamp.

There are two clear mesages to take away from ANCAP’s latest statement to the media. The first is the great progress towards ever safer cars, for which ANCAP can justly claim some credit.

The second is… how on earth do consumers tell the difference when almost everything is 5 star, and the two that didn’t make it, only just failed, and are 4 star. Yes, there’s “5 star, 20xx” now to denote the year. But no consumers have noticed and fewer still understand why the year is so important, so long has the ‘5-star, 5-star, 5-star’ mantra been hammered home.

And it’s far from the case that all 5 star cars are equal, as the scoring doesn’t properly reflect the range of advanced safety equipment now on offer. There’s also the case of advanced safety equipment being available on only the top-spec model in a range, or occasionally being available on variants sold overseas but not here. As an example of the not-all-five-star-cars-are-equal:


Both the cars above are rated 5-star by ANCAP, yet the Mercedes-Benz offers far more safety features than the much cheaper Swift. That HAS to be clearly reflected in the ratings, something car makers have called for in the past.

If you can’t really figure out what the safest cars on the market are simply by glancing at their ANCAP rating and getting a clear understanding of what they do and don’t offer, and surely that’s the point, then maybe there’s a problem?

Car makers have been critical of ANCAP over the years, with many claiming that their own internal crash testing is more relevant than ANCAP testing. However, car makers are under no obligation to publish the results of their own crash testing.

Locally, brands like Toyota and Holden have all had stoushes with ANCAP via the media, but none more so than Volvo which, in the past, has claimed it’s concerned that some car makers are simply building cars to achieve a five-star ANCAP rating but neglecting real-world safety. Volvo has publicly outlined its commitment than no person should die driving a Volvo from 2020.

Volvo has also, in the past, called on ANCAP to begin properly assessing and taking into consideration advanced safety features, like autonomous emergency braking. A former Volvo boss in 2010 stated, “We applaud everybody’s efforts to make our roads and cars safer but we do get concerned with the current system [ANCAP] because it does intimate that because a car has achieved a five-star rating it is as safe as another car with five stars.

“If there’s a [five-star ANCAP] small car with fewer safety features, I think it begins to mislead the public. So I’m not sure [ANCAP] is giving enough service to the public any more.”

Here at Practical Motoring we believe there is a solution, and we’ve described it here: why and how we should improve ANCAP safety ratings.

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper

Robert Pepper is a motoring journalist, offroad driver trainer and photographer interested in anything with wings, sails or wheels. He is the author of four books on offroading, and owns a modified Ford Ranger PX which he uses for offroad touring. His other car is a Toyota 86 which exists purely to drive in circles on racetracks, and that's when he isn't racing his Nissan Pulsar. Visit his website: or follow him on Facebook