The budget-focused Datsun Go and Maruti Suzuki Swift models sold in India have been lambasted after scoring zero stars in the most recent round of Global New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) crash testing.
Both market-specific vehicles were put through a crash test scenario under the newly formed Indian arm of NCAP, the Bharat New Car Assessment Program. Neither is fitted with any airbag protection as standard in their cheapest form.
Datsun, a budget-focused offshoot of Japanese company Nissan, sells the Go city car in emerging markets such as India and Russia. In the 64km/h frontal offset test, the Go scored zero stars for adult occupant protection and just two stars for child occupant protection.
According to Global NCAP, the Go's "vehicle structure collapsed in the crash and was rated as unstable", while "the car's lack of airbags mean that the driver's head makes direct contact with the steering wheel and dashboard". This, according to the findings, means the occupant would likely have life-threatening injuries. However, the findings suggested that the flimsy nature of the body structure means airbags would be "redundant".
While the Maruti Suzuki Swift looks a lot like the five-star Suzuki Swift hatchback sold here, it's made with lower quality materials and lacks plenty of safety equipment fitted standard to the car on the market in Australia. The Maruti version scored zero stars for adult occupant protection, and only one for child occupant protection.
According to the findings, its vehicle structure "showed signs of collapsing in the crash and was rated as unstable", and its lack of airbags also meant the dummy registered "high probability of life threatening injuries" - however, according to the findings, "unlike the Go, fitting airbags would improve occupant protection".
Global NCAP secretary-general David Ward complemented the notion of assessing cars for developing markets.
"We welcome the initiative of the Indian government to launch its own NCAP and recommend that this positive step is combined with the application of the UN regulations for frontal and side impact. Prompt action like this would prevent the introduction of brand new models like the Datsun Go, which has a body structure so weak that it is pointless to fit an airbag.
"It is disappointing to see a global company like Nissan launch a new car design in 2014 that so clearly falls below UN safety standards. This runs counter to the objectives of the UN Decade of Action for Road Safety."
Australasian NCAP chairman Lauchlan McIntosh applauded the Indian government for backing the new Bharat NCAP testing regime.
"The formation of an Indian-based NCAP is a positive step and ANCAP congratulates the Indian Government and the Institute of Road Traffic Education (ITRE) on bringing this program to fruition," said McIntosh.
"Bharat NCAP is the tenth NCAP to be formed around the world and with India now the fifth largest producer of passenger cars, this new consumer program will no doubt have a direct effect on improving vehicle safety standards across India."