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by Tim Beissmann

The RACV has urged car manufacturers to review the way they design vehicles following a damning study into forward visibility and blindspots.

No new vehicles currently sold in Australia received the maximum five-star rating under the RACV Car Blindspot Ratings system, while more than 20 percent scored just one star.

The report found the Volkswagen Golf and the Citroen C4 Picasso had the fewest forward blind spots of any new vehicles on sale in Australia. Both were awarded four stars out of five.

The RACV tested 183 new passenger cars, SUVs and light commercial vehicles. In total, 25 earned three stars, 116 scored two stars and 40 were awarded just one star.

The test involved rotating a laser 180 degrees to replicate the driver’s forward vision. Points were deducted for how significantly the A-pillars disrupted the laser’s path.

The range of forward visibility has decreased in recent years as manufacturers seek to make their cars more structurally sound and better equipped with safety features.

RACV manager vehicle engineering, Michael Case, said manufacturers and designers had a responsibility to balance the addition of new safety features and vehicle construction with visibility.

“Manufacturers must ensure there is a good balance between crash safety and visibility,” Mr Case said. “In some vehicles tested, a pedestrian or cyclist as close as nine metres away and a vehicle 20 metres away couldn’t be seen by the driver because the design of the vehicle created a side blind spot.

“RACV urges manufacturers to review their car’s ratings in this study and create designs that combine vehicle safety, ergonomics and visibility.”

Mr Case said drivers had to be aware of their cars’ blind spots and should be prepared to move their head to look around them when necessary.

“It’s particularly important when drivers approach intersections, especially roundabout, to keep sight of other vehicles as you give way,” he said.

The following is a list of the better-performing vehicles in the test. The full list can be viewed at the RACV’s website.

Small cars

Three stars:

  • Fiat 500

Small-Medium cars

Four stars:

  • Volkswagen Golf (hatch and wagon)

Three stars:

  • BMW 1 Series (hatch)
  • Honda Insight
  • MINI Cooper (all models)
  • Peugeot 308 (hatch and wagon)
  • Toyota Corolla (sedan and hatch)
  • Volvo C30

Medium cars

Three stars:

  • Citroen C5 (sedan and wagon)
  • Mazda6 (all models)

People movers

Four stars:

  • Citroen C4 Picasso

SUVs

Three stars:

  • BMW X5
  • Chery J11
  • Mazda CX-9
  • Mitsubishi Outlander
  • Subaru Forester
  • Toyota Kluger

Sports cars

Three stars:

  • Audi A3 Cabriolet
  • Audi TT
  • BMW 1 Series (coupe and convertible)
  • BMW Z4
  • Mazda RX-8
  • Nissan 370Z

Luxury Cars

Three stars:

  • BMW 3 Series (sedan and wagon)

Commercial vehicles

Three stars:

  • Suzuki APV

For the record, this is how the Australian-made cars were ranked:

Two stars:

  • Ford Falcon/FPV (sedan)
  • Ford Falcon Ute
  • Holden Cruze
  • Toyota Aurion
  • Toyota Camry

One star:

  • Holden Commodore/HSV (sedan and wagon)
  • Holden Caprice
  • Holden Ute

What do you think of the rankings? Did the RACV get it right, or do you disagree with the results? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.




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