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by Tim Beissmann

The Indian-built Tata Xenon has received a disappointing two-star ANCAP safety rating, making it one of the lowest-scoring vehicles on the market.

Despite ANCAP admitting the Xenon 4×2 dual-cab ute performed “fairly well” in the frontal offset crash test, in which it scored 11.27 out of 16, the unavailability of electronic stability control (ESC) limits it to a two-star rating under ANCAP’s scoring criteria.

But managing director Tata Motors’ Australian distributor Fusion Automotive, Darren Bowler, is “extremely confident” the Xenon will rate “much higher” once vehicles equipped with ESC – due in local showrooms by mid-June – are re-rated.

“If the vehicle had ESC fitted it would have rated much higher,” Bowler told CarAdvice. “In fact, the score of 16.49 overall is the maximum score you can achieve without ESC. If it had ESC it would have scored almost double.”

“I wouldn’t like to pre-empt ANCAP’s rating of the car once ESC is fitted [but] I’m extremely confident of where it will get.”

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With ESC, CarAdvice understands the Tata Xenon will meet the requirements to make it eligible for a four-star safety rating, satisfying the minimum scores for the frontal offset and side impact tests and the overall score, and coming standard with at least one additional safety assist technology feature.

ANCAP CEO Nicholas Clarke told CarAdvice the Xenon’s rating would improve with ESC, but would not speculate on what rating it would achieve, though suggested scoring the maximum five-star safety rating would require significant specification upgrades.

“Certainly for five-star they’d have to do a whole lot better because for five-star … they would need ESC, three-point seatbelts, curtain airbags, seatbelt reminders for the front seats, emergency brake assist (EBA) and an additional three safety assist technologies, so it’s a hurdle for cars to jump to,” Clarke said.

The Xenon lacks side and curtain airbags, EBA, and a three-point seatbelt for the centre-rear seating position, though it does feature dual front airbags, front-seat seatbelt reminders and a reverse-view camera in dual-cab variants.

Bowler said Tata Motors was “really pleased” with the Xenon’s 11.27 frontal impact test score, which betters that of rivals such as the Nissan Navara D40 (10.50), Mitsubishi Triton (9.08), Foton Tunland (8.00), Mahindra Pik-Up (6.60) and the Great Wall V200/V240 (2.36).

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ESC-equipped Xenons were originally due in Australia in January, though Bowler said issues had pushed them back by around five months.

“There was a delay in those cars through Bosch who do all the ESC hardware and software, but the final certification has only just occurred, cars are about to go into production.”

He said it was still undecided if the price of the Xenon – currently ranging between $22,990 and $29,990 – would rise once ESC was included standard.

“We haven’t finalised our pricing for cars with ESC, we’re still in discussions on that, but it is our intention to remain very much focused on value and feature content as we go forward.”

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ANCAP has also awarded four new vehicles the maximum five-star ANCAP safety rating. The Citroen Grand C4 Picasso, Peugeot 2008, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Toyota Kluger (above) all achieved top ratings in the latest round of crash testing.




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