The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has awarded nine new vehicles covering a diverse range of classes and price points its maximum five-star safety rating.
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The newly released Fiat Panda, Ford EcoSport, Isuzu D-Max 4x4 crew cab, Isuzu MU-X 4x4, Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, Nissan Altima, Nissan Pulsar hatch, Toyota HiLux 4x4 dual cab and Suzuki SX4 S-Cross all received the top safety rating.

The selection of cars represents seven different vehicle classes, with purchase price ranging between $16,500 and $96,000.

The five-star ratings for the Australian-market Ford EcoSport and Fiat Panda models represent an improvement over their European counterparts, both of which earned four-star Euro NCAP ratings as a result of differences between local and European crash test criteria and scoring systems.

“There is an exceptional range of five-star cars across all market segments,” ANCAP chairman Lachlan McIntosh said.

"Whether you’re after a large car, an SUV, a people-mover, a small car, it doesn’t matter – there are many five-star cars in every market category – accept nothing less."

McIntosh also acknowledged the role of in-car technology – whether it be the Panda’s standard stability control, or the CLA’s ‘Collision Prevention Assist’, which warns drivers if the car is an unsafe distance from the car in front, and will support braking if it detects a dangerous situation – in contributing to the safety ratings.