Kia's new people-mover is hoping for full marks in upcoming ANCAP crash tests.
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The 2021 Kia Carnival is still a chance for a five-star ANCAP safety rating – despite not being fitted with a centre airbag.

Becoming increasingly common in new cars, the centre airbag is used to reduce the impact between the two front occupants during the new Far Side Impact Test.

The 2021 Kia Carnival comes with seven airbags, which includes full-length curtain airbags across three rows, and a driver’s knee airbag.

While many believe this new safety technology is a requirement for top marks in the ANCAP safety test, the recently tested Land Rover Defender has proven otherwise.

Although the British off-roader doesn’t have a centre airbag between front occupants, it was able to achieve the full five stars from ANCAP in August 2020 against the more stringent requirements.

2020 Land Rover Defender ANCAP 1

Not all vehicles behave equally in these tests, and having a wider body can help improve performance.

ANCAP says new vehicles tested to today’s crash safety protocols need to perform well in the recently-introduced Far-Side Impact tests.

Two Far-Side impact crash tests are conducted to evaluate "occupant-to-vehicle" and "occupant-to-occupant" interaction in side impacts with another vehicle – and with an intrusive object such as a tree or pole.

“These tests evaluate the likely injury to the occupant on the non-struck side of the vehicle, and encourages vehicle brands to include a countermeasure to reduce occupant injury in these types of crashes,” says ANCAP representative Rhianne Robson.

“ANCAP doesn’t prescribe the countermeasure that is required to achieve this, but in many cases – particularly in smaller vehicles where cabin space is at a premium – centre airbags will be the preferred countermeasure chosen by the vehicle manufacturer.”

For example, the 2020 Isuzu D-Max was the first 4X4 ute to get a centre airbag, while Toyota fitted two centre airbags into its new Yaris city car. Both of these vehicles got a five-star ANCAP safety rating in 2020.

A Kia spokesperson told CarAdvice they are hopeful the Carnival will perform in a similar fashion to the Defender, and not incur heavy penalties from occupant-to-occupant interaction in the front seats.

“The greater the shoulder room is between two front occupants, the less chance there is of head clash," Kia Australia product planner Roland Rivero said. "That’s where the Defender was able to ... get over the line.”

While the 2021 Kia Carnival has just arrived in showrooms, it is yet to be crashed-tested by ANCAP.

CarAdvice understands the process is underway and the result will be published in the coming months.