THE model expected to be the most popular in the new generation Holden Astra range is the latest car to fall foul of the differing regulations that cover Euro and Australasian NCAP independent crash test processes.
While the upper specification RS and RS-V models get the full five-star rating here, the entry-level R is unrated because it does not get some high-tech driver aids such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) standard.
But the R is structurally the same as its two stablemates, is fitted with the same level of passive safety equipment and Holden is confident it would achieve five stars if crash tested locally.
However, because the Astra is developed and built by Opel in Europe, Holden elected to take the far cheaper course of submitting Euro NCAP results to achieve an ANCAP rating.
And therein lies the rub. While the two crash test protocols will be uniform by 2018, current differences can produce anomalies such as the Astra R result.
“Because the Euro cars tested had the features and content of the RS and the RS-V the result that we get we can only apply to the RS and RS-V,” Holden director of vehicle performance Ian Butler explained.
“The way Euro NCAP worked when they did the Astra is that if you are offering that content at more than 50 per cent of [sales] penetration you would get a single rating for the car.
“That was the data we had to work with, so being rigorous ANCAP has obviously applied that to the cars that match spec-wise.”
Astra ANCAP ratings were announced this morning. Sales officially commence December 1. In the release announcing the rating, ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin urged buyers to opt for the more expensive RS and RS-V over the R.
“Real world safety benefits are being achieved by these important safety technologies and we encourage consumers to choose a model with these technologies fitted,” Goodwin said.
Holden isn’t alone in striking issues with NCAP ratings. For instance, the Ford Focus RS is unrated in Australia because it comes without side airbags and the blue oval has elected not to re-crash test it here. In Europe it gets five stars because the Recaro seats that delete side airbags are optional not standard.
Holden sales executive director Peter Keley predicted the issue of safety ratings applying to only selected models in vehicle ranges will become more common.
“This is going to become a challenge for all brands because in the future you are not going to have every car in a range with a rating,” he said.
“There are already cars out there that are in this situation and it is going to be a bigger challenge going forward and it just depends where you are in the launch cycle as to whether you are one of the first with a mainstream car or if you are launching in a year or two and the issue won’t be seen as an issue.”