About 30 vehicles either in the New Zealand market, or about to be, have been awarded Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) safety ratings last year, with all but two receiving the highest rank possible including a record-breaking score.
AA Motoring Services General Manager Stella Stocks says a significant range of manufacturers have demonstrated their commitment to consumer safety producing options for all motoring needs and desires.
"As ANCAP continually lifts the bar in terms of required safety performance, manufacturers are rising to the challenge to not just meet minimum requirements for a 5 star safety rating, many are far exceeding it," Ms Stocks says.
From this year, ANCAP is moving to align its testing protocols with those of Euro NCAP. While the physical crash tests are close to identical, analysis of the resulting data is slightly different. From now, Euro NCAP results will be released in New Zealand and Australia without being reassessed by ANCAP, however they will still carry the ANCAP brand.
Ms Stocks says the move to align ANCAP with Euro NCAP will make the safety explanations less complex in the future.
One of the latest vehicles to be tested this year was the Hyundai Genesis large car, which earned a near perfect ANCAP score following its crash test. The area preventing a 100% score was an acceptable score, rather than good, for the chest region of the driver. Pedestrian safety was also declared acceptable.
Seven SUVs including the much-lauded Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) all earned 5 star ANCAP safety ratings this year.
The other SUVS on the list are:
• Toyota Highlander
• Jeep Cherokee
• Jeep Patriot
• Nissan Pathfinder
• Nissan Qashqai
• Nissan X-Trail
"SUVs have become an important part of the New Zealand new car market with many people opting for them in a huge range of uses, both in urban and rural environments. The demand for these vehicles is supported by an intensive period of new model launches this year."
While big cars don't dominate the ANCAP list for the year consumers do have a number of large and luxury vehicles to choose from if they value safety in their new cars. In addition there is also a big range of small to medium vehicles which achieved 5 star safety ratings.
"With popular cars such as the Mazda3, the 2014 New Zealand Car of the Year, along with the Toyota Corolla, Volkswagen Polo and Honda Accord which have all been awarded 5 star safety ratings this year, the New Zealand fleet is becoming safer. Even those in the second-hand car market have something to look forward to as these models will flow through to the used market in two or three years providing affordable, safe options for motorists," Ms Stocks says.
"While the ANCAP bar continues to be raised, which challenges manufacturers to put an increasing focus on structural safety and developing new active safety assist technologies (SATs) like autonomous emergency braking (AEB), there's no denying that today's 5 star cars will continue to provide good occupant and pedestrian protection."
Ms Stocks says her advice to motorists is to always buy the safest car they can afford.
"Motorists consider a number of attributes when they're looking at their next vehicle purchase, but safety should always be at the top of the list.
"Potential buyers should be asking about the ANCAP safety rating or the Used Car Safety Rating, which is based on years of real world crash data in New Zealand and Australia."
Ms Stocks says buyers should also start to familiarise themselves with the range of different SATs including those that vary between brands and models.
"We've come a long way since driver airbags were considered state-of-the-art safety devices. More manufacturers are including AEB as standard and depending on the age of the car, buyers should be starting to expect to see electronic stability control (ESC) alongside the usual antilock brakes (ABS) and electronic brake distribution (EBD)."
Ms Stocks says a 5 star ANCAP safety rating provides the best chance of occupant survival in a crash.
Outside of SUVs, the other cars in the ANCAP 5 star safety club this year are:
• Toyota Corolla
• Subaru WRX
• Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
• Peugeot 2008 (2013)
• Skoda Rapid
• Kia pro_cee'd
• Mercedes-Benz C-Class (Awarded Safest Car at the 2014 NZ Car of the Year Awards)
• Maserati Ghibli
• Lexus CT 200h hybrid
• Lexus IS 300h hybrid
• Volkswagen Polo
• Hyundai Genesis
• Honda Accord
• Peugeot 308 diesel
• Toyota Prius C
• Subaru Outback
• Subaru Legacy
Also tested was the Ssangyong Stavic which gained a 4 star ANCAP safety rating and Great Wall V200 4x4 single cab ute, which achieve a 3 star rating.