The new Chevrolet Aveo – to be sold in Australia as the all-new 2012 Holden Barina – is among a group of nine new vehicles to be awarded the maximum five-star safety rating by Euro NCAP.

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The top safety rating will make the new Holden Barina one of the safest vehicles in the light car class when it goes on sale in Australia in October, making the Barina’s past poor safety reputation a distant memory.

When Holden switched from the European-sourced Barina to the rebadged Daewoo Kalos late in 2005, the vehicle’s ANCAP safety rating plummeted to a disappointing two stars. Sold between 2005 and 2007, the South Korean-sourced Barina had optional ABS and was not available with more than airbags.

In 2008, the current Holden Barina achieved an improved four-star rating thanks to the addition of side airbags and ABS, although it is still not available with electronic stability control (ESC).

The Barina Spark, launched in Australia in 2010, also achieves a four-star rating and comes standard with four airbags, ABS, EBD and ESC.

The all-new Barina, to be sold in five-door hatch and four-door sedan body styles, comes standard with six airbags (dual front, side and curtains), ESC and seatbelt reminders for all five occupants.

Of the 10 vehicles tested by Euro NCAP in the latest round, the Kia Picanto was the only one not to achieve a five-star rating.

Euro NCAP secretary general, Michael van Ratingen, said as Kia had made the “surprising” decision not to make ESC standard across the Picanto range in Europe, it was given a four-star rating.

“In 2011, consumers should expect this critical safety equipment to be part of any offering regardless of the car size or price,” Mr van Ratingen said.

Other cars to gain the maximum Euro NCAP five-star safety rating included the recently launched Audi A6, BMW X3 and Volkswagen Jetta, and the upcoming Hyundai i40 and Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet.

The Chevrolet Orlando, Citroen DS5 and Opel/Vauxhall Ampera also achieved a five-star safety rating.

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