Watch: Fiat hatchback scores zero-star NCAP safety rating
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It hasn't been an ideal 24 hours or so for Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, following a pair of pretty average looking crash test results at Euro NCAP for the 2018 Fiat Panda and the Jeep Wrangler.
First, the Panda. The popular little hatchback, potentially known best for being the car of choice for The Grand Tour's James May, scored a zero-star rating across its latest wave of testing. That's a rather amazing feat for a relatively global platform that's sold all over Europe.
Ironically, it's almost 12 months to the day that Fiat's slightly larger Punto platform was handed a zero-star rating from the same group.
What makes the 2018 Panda's crash test particularly interesting is that, looking at the video, it's hard to discern any particularly sizeable negatives. The door-lines remain consistent and the roof panel flat in head-on crashes, seat-belts tension up and air bags go off as you'd expect them to for the three dummy occupants, and the dashboard remains intact.
Most curious of all the crash tests look very similar to the 2010 Panda tests, where the small Italian hatchback scored a four-star rating.
Inevitably, the reason why four-star safety in 2010 has become zero-star safety in 2018 is almost entirely to do with 'safety assistance technology'. NCAP commented that the Panda's seat-belt reminder system didn't meet their requirements, and no other driver-assistance systems (like autonomous emergency braking or lane keep assist) were present. This meant it scored zeros across a bunch of sub-categories.
All up, the Panda scored a 45 per cent in adult protection, a 16 per cent in child protection, 47 per cent in protecting 'vulnerable road users' (such as pedestrians), and seven percent in safety assistance.
Improvements in car safety have been vast, and that's a good thing ... but it's also hard to ignore that this Panda is still likely structurally safer than most of the small cars on our roads today.
The other big story was the Jeep Wrangler. Unlike the Panda, this is a model we're actually going to see arriving in New Zealand in the new year. And it only achieved a one-star rating from Euro NCAP.
Like the Panda, the Wrangler copped heat from NCAP for lacking in the autonomous and semi autonomous safety game. Head protection for pedestrians was also listed by the organisation as "predominantly poor or adequate". All up, it scored a 50 per cent for adult protection, 69 per cent for child protection, 49 per cent for vulnerable road users, and 32 per cent for safety assist technology.
Speaking to Jalopnik, a spokesperson from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles cited that European Wranglers will be gaining AEB in the coming months, adding that the Wrangler was designed to “deliver superior performance and unique driving experiences under the most demanding conditions” and that “testing protocols that apply exclusively to urban scenarios may not align with such a vehicle.”
It's not yet clear whether the Wrangler range that hits New Zealand will come with AEB and other safety technologies as standard. We've contacted an Ateco Group NZ spokesperson, with the hope of finding out.