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by Tim Beissmann

The Renault Clio has earned the maximum five-star safety rating from ANCAP despite not being available with rear passenger-protecting curtain airbags.

The Clio – already rated five stars by overseas affiliate Euro NCAP – scored 35.87 points out of 37 in the local crash test, making it one of the highest-rated city cars on the market according to ANCAP’s testing criteria.

The timing of the Clio’s Australian launch was crucial to its five-star rating. From January 1, stricter criteria will require all new vehicles launched in Australia after that date to come with rear passenger-protecting airbags to earn the maximum rating.

As such, the Clio-based Renault Captur SUV, which likewise foregoes curtain airbags, will only be eligible for a four-star ANCAP safety rating following its mid-2014 launch unless it is upgraded before then.

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Earlier this year, Renault communications manager Christophe Deville defended the French car maker’s decision not to include curtain airbags in the new Clio and instead focus its efforts on best protecting front-seat occupants.

“The occupancy rate of cars in the segment is that most are in the front seats,” Deville said.

“So either we could have curtain airbags or we could invest in sensors [in the B-pillar] and be sure the sensing was much quicker for side impacts. They need to trigger very quickly in order to save front-seat driver or passenger.”

Seemingly vindicating Renault’s decision was the Clio’s perfect score of 16 in ANCAP’s side impact crash test and two out of two in the pole test.

ANCAP chairman Lauchlan McIntosh conceded that while the Clio provided good head and chest protection for the driver in the side impact and pole tests, he said it was “disappointing that head-protecting side airbags for rear occupants are not available”.

kia-rondo-crash

Also earning the maximum five-star safety rating was the Kia Rondo, which became the top-rated people-mover according to ANCAP’s criteria with a score of 36.20 out of 37.

The Rondo was praised for its standard fitment of seatbelt reminders in all seven seating positions. It also features curtain airbags, as well as front and side airbags, though McIntosh again expressed disappointment that the curtains did not extend to protect the heads of third-row passengers.

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The Mazda 6 wrapped up a perfect round of testing, also being awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating.

As well as coming with a host of standard safety equipment, the Mazda 6 is also available with a number of advanced safety systems, including adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, auto high beam, blind spot monitoring and a lane support system.




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