The massively popular Ford Mustang GT V8 Fastback coupe has received a disastrous two-star safety rating from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP), based on testing conducted by sister organisation Euro NCAP, and more than a year after its local launch.
In response, a disappointed Ford defended the Mustang's very sub-par safety performance across an array of procedures, while promising to add autonomous emergency braking and a lane-keeping aid to new cars from 2018.
Given the fact the Mustang managed around 6208 sales in 2016, triple its nearest rival, the impact to buyers could be significant. Two stars is one of the lowest ratings in ANCAP's history, though this week's result stems from new, more stringent testing criteria than many other vehicles tested in earlier years.
ANCAP's report, released today, awarded the American-made Mustang (only the GT coupe) a woeful 32 per cent for child occupant protection and just 16 per cent for safety assist technologies, the latter of which is much more heavily scrutinised now than it was a few years ago.
The Pony also managed an ordinary 72 per cent for adult occupant protection (equivalent to a four-star outcome) and 64 per cent for pedestrian protection, which prompted ANCAP CEO James Goodwin to call the result "simply shocking for such a newly designed and popular model".
“The safety of adult occupants, child occupants and the ability to avoid a crash all form the basis of our ratings and the Mustang falls short in each of these areas,” he added.
Goodwin slammed the lack of speed assistance systems, lane support systems, autonomous emergency braking, forward collision warning and rear seat belt reminders, but also the physical crash performance.
“Of concern, the full width frontal test showed a risk of serious head, chest and leg injury for the rear passenger. There was also insufficient inflation of both the driver and front passenger airbags in the frontal offset test which allowed the driver’s head to contact the steering wheel and the passenger’s head to contact the dashboard,” he said.
Goodwin added that the driver’s door opened in the pole test, and whiplash protection for rear-end collisions was marginal.
“This rating is not intended to shock or surprise – it simply presents the safety of this car against that of its contemporary competitors," he said.
“This rating should not come as a surprise to Ford as we maintain strong relationships with vehicle brands and they are informed on the development of our protocols.
“I would encourage Ford to swiftly introduce design and production changes to improve its safety performance."
In response, Ford Australia external communications head Martin Günsberg said the company was disappointed, citing its five-star NHTSA score and 'good' rating from the IIHS, both of which are US-based testing protocols.
"The overall Euro NCAP rating is based on four pillars (Adult Occupant Protection, Child Occupant Protection, Pedestrian Protection and Safety Assist), with a very strong focus on family car and SUV safety characteristics and specific safety assist features, which are usually not part of the standard equipment of cars in the Mustang category," he stated.
"Mustang delivered a four-star result for Adult Occupant Protection, a three-star result for Child Occupant Protection and a five-star result for Pedestrian Protection. However, a two-star result in the Safety Assist pillar determined the overall result of a two-star rating.
"The Mustang features a suite of advanced safety features as standard including an ‘active’ pop-up bonnet, as well as driver and front passenger airbags, front and passenger knee airbags. It also offers standard side airbags, side chest airbags and driver/passenger side impact airbags. A driver and front passenger seatbelt reminder system is standard."
Günsberg also said that Ford was "committed to continued improvement in vehicle safety", and that the new-look 2018 Mustang in Australia (pictured above) would be equipped with driver assistance features such as AEB and Lane Keeping Aid.
Ford Australia still holds a long order list on the Mustang, given the short supply. It remains to be seen what affect the ANCAP score has.
Are you one of the thousands of people who have bought a Mustang, or have one on order? What are your thoughts now? Tell us in the comments.