EUROPEAN vehicle safety organisation Euro NCAP has issued its first ever rating of zero stars in its latest round of crash tests.
The Fiat Punto is one of a number of cars to receive a “facelift” — mild cosmetic and tech updates rather than a full re-engineering from the ground up — in 2017, and Euro NCAP decided to retest a number of them following the changes. Many of these cars, including the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Ford C-Max and Grand C-MAX, and the DS 3 have dropped from five to three stars rating this time around, reflecting how safety requirements have moved on since they were last tested. However, the Punto, which originally went on sale in 2005 and in its current form costs from £11,850, is the only one to be stripped of all its stars.
Euro NCAP tests cars in four key areas: Adult Occupant safety; Child Occupant safety; Pedestrian safety; and Safety Assist systems. To qualify for one star overall, the rating scheme requires cars to score a minimum number of points in all four areas of assessment, which the 2017 Punto failed to do.
In the frontal offset collision test, where a car is driven forward into a barrier that connects with just under half of the front end, Euro NCAP says the Punto’s passenger compartment remained stable, with good protection of the knees and femurs of both the driver and passenger. However, structures in the dashboard were thought to present a risk of injury to occupants of different sizes and to those sat in different positions, while protection of the passenger’s chest was rated as marginal.
The situation was worse in the full-width rigid barrier test, which simulates crashing directly into an indestructible wall; protection of the driver was good or adequate for all critical body regions but protection of rear passengers’ chests was weak and protection of the neck was only marginal.
In the side barrier test, chest protection was rated as marginal, while in the event of a rear-end collision whiplash protection was rated as poor for front passengers and marginal for rear passengers.
Euro NCAP says it didn’t bother performing a side pole test, which looks at what happens if you slide sideways into a lamppost, for example, as the Punto does not have a standard-fit head protecting airbag. It also received zero points for the Safety Assist section, as it only comes with a seatbelt reminder for the driver’s seat as standard.
Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP’s secretary general, said: “This is perhaps the strongest example of a manufacturer continuing to sell a product that is well past its best-before date, at the expense of the unsuspecting car buyer. We would urge consumers to check our website for the latest ratings and to choose cars with the most up-to-date five-star ratings, many examples of which we have seen in 2017.”
Fiat said in a statement: “Safety is of the utmost importance to the FCA [Fiat Chrysler Automobiles] group. When Punto was launched 12 years ago, it was the first 5* Euro NCAP car in its class. The importance of safety to the FCA group is demonstrated by the number of new models achieving 5*, for example Alfa Romeo Giulia, Alfa Romeo Stelvio and the Jeep Compass.”
For the full crash test results, click here.