Both manufacturers have copped a spray with ANCAP stating that Australians are being "short-changed" when it comes to safety equipment released on local versions of their cars.
The decision to include or exclude such equipment is at the mercy of the local arm of the two manufacturers, who decide price points and specification level for each imported car. In contrast, Lachlan McIntosh, ANCAP Chairman, said our friends across the Tasman do get the full five stars.
“Both models (Soul and Jazz) come with electronic stability control (ESC) and intelligent seat belt reminders for all seats in Europe - yet ESC is not available on any Jazz in Australia and the base model only has a driver seat belt reminder,” Mr McIntosh said today.
“The Australian Soul only has a driver seat belt reminder and the base model does not have ESC. In contrast, the New Zealand Kia Soul has all these features and earns the top five-star rating from ANCAP.”
Honda then fought back, releasing the following statement:
ANCAP recently undertook testing of the entry model Honda Jazz GLi which recorded a very high four-star safety rating.
If ANCAP had tested the GLi with the Safety Pack option, which includes side and full-length curtain airbags, it would have received a five-star rating; as it does in EuroNCAP testing.
Therefore, in terms of crash protection, the Jazz GLi with Safety Pack option, Jazz VTi and Jazz VTi-S are in fact five-star cars.
However, ANCAP do not give a five-star rating to a vehicle that is not fitted with Electronic Stability Control irrespective of its crash performance.
Honda Australia acknowledges that due to the unique configuration of the Australian Jazz, Vehicle Stability Assist (Honda’s term for Electronic Stability Control) is currently unavailable.
However, as Honda Australia announced at the media launch of the Jazz in August 2008 and has been widely reported in the media, testing would be conducted by Honda R&D and Vehicle Stability Assist will become a standard feature on all Jazz variants with the introduction of the 2011 Year model (slated for arrival in Australia late 2010).
We should point out that Honda's claim that the models fitted with the extra airbags should be five-star cars is a little misleading as the European models tested by EuroNCAP were fitted with ESC, because Honda Europe takes the car fitted with a CVT transmission, not the automatic fitted in Australia.
In addition, the Kia Cerato and Suzuki Alto were highlighted as needing more leg protection and crucially, seat belt reminders. As a result, these new models also only receive four stars.
“Despite generally high seat belt wearing rates in Australia, passengers without seat belts are over-represented in road fatalities and this simple device is a very effective countermeasure,” Mr McIntosh said.“There are now plenty of choices for five-star safety for small cars in Australia, with several models costing less than $20,000. It is regrettable that these latest results have not added to that list.”