The disappointing result is Mercedes-Benz's worst Euro NCAP rating since 1997 when the first-generation C-Class managed only two stars.
The Mercedes-Benz Citan – a derivative of the Renault Kangoo van that has been in production since 2008 and itself earned a four-star Euro NCAP rating under an old, less-stringent scoring system – scored 74 per cent for adult occupant protection, 69 per cent for child occupant protection, 56 per cent for pedestrian protection and 33 per cent for its safety assist features.
Euro NCAP was particularly critical of the Citan’s hard dashboard structures that present a hazard to the legs of front-seat passengers, the lack of seatbelt reminders for passenger-side and rear-seat occupants and poor pedestrian protection offered by the edge of the bonnet.
Mercedes-Benz has also confirmed it will seek to improve the performance of the curtain airbag after it got caught in the upper seatbelt anchorage point in the side-impact and pole tests, costing the Citan more points.
No direct competitors of the Citan have been tested since 2009 – the year the assessment criteria started becoming progressively more difficult to meet – making a direct comparison with rivals difficult.
The Mercedes-Benz Citan was introduced across Europe during the third quarter of 2012, giving the German manufacturer its first contender in the compact van market since the Vaneo was phased out in 2005.
The Citan is scheduled to go on sale in Australia during the second half of this year.