The BMW i3 has scored a disappointing four-star crash test rating from independent safety assessor Euro NCAP.
BMW's first electric car, expected to be awarded a five-star rating, was joined by the Ford EcoSport, Mercedes-Benz Citan, Nissan Note and Volkswagen Transporter in achieving just four stars in the latest round of testing, in which six other models earned the maximum rating.
Euro NCAP’s testing procedure revealed the BMW i3 offered weak protection of the driver’s ribs in a severe side pole impact and found the front seat head restraints offered marginal protection against whiplash in a rear-end collision.
The i3 – set to cost about $60,000 when it launches in Australia in the third quarter of 2013 – was also criticised for its lack of rear-passenger seatbelt reminders and for the poor protection offered to pedestrians from the front of the bonnet, the base of the windscreen and the A-pillars.
It recorded scores of 86 per cent in the adult occupant protection criteria, 81 per cent for child occupant protection, 57 per cent for pedestrian protection, and 55 per cent for safety assist features.
The Ford EcoSport, launched in Australia this week, offered better adult occupant protection (93 per cent), but poorer child occupant protection (77 per cent), and recorded similar scores in the pedestrian (58 per cent) and safety assist (55 per cent) criteria.
Embarrassed with a three-star rating for its Citan van in April, Mercedes-Benz made a number of changes to the vehicle before having it retested. Improving the deployment of the side airbag and the installation of child restraints, fitting a seatbelt reminder for the front passenger seat, and making the speed limitation device comply with Euro NCAP requirements delivered the intended result for the German manufacturer, boosting its rating from three stars to four.
Unsurprisingly, the most expensive car of the group, the Ghibli, was the highest rated overall, scoring 95 per cent for adult protection, 79 per cent for child protection, 74 per cent for pedestrian protection and 81 per cent for safety assist features.
The Mazda 3 took top honours for offering the best child occupant protection (86 per cent), narrowly ahead of the Tourneo Connect and the Q50 (85 per cent).