Crash tests show small cars are now safer for occupants

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The Independent Online

Superminis are becoming safer, say the results of crash tests published today. But although the tests showed better protection for car occupants in an accident, provision for pedestrian protection showed "little progress".

Superminis are becoming safer, say the results of crash tests published today. But although the tests showed better protection for car occupants in an accident, provision for pedestrian protection showed "little progress".

The crash tests, using dummies, were the latest in a series in the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP). Seven small car models were tested: Fiat Punto, Volkswagen Lupo, MCC (Mercedes) Smart, Hyundai Atoz, Vauxhall Corsa, Honda Logo and Lancia Ypsilon (which is not on sale in Britain).

Cars were given stars to show their crash-survivability rating, with four stars being the best and one star the poorest.

When superminis were first tested by Euro NCAP in 1997, only two of the seven cars got three stars for front and side crash protection for passengers. In the latest test, all the cars, except the Lancia Ypsilon (two stars), achieved three stars for front and side protection, with the Punto and Lupo both receivingfour stars.

The Punto and the Corsa were the only models to feature in both the 1997 test and the latest one. Both had previously achieved only a two-star front and side protection rating.

On pedestrian safety, each of the seven models in the latest test received a two-star rating - an improvement on the 1997 result when five of the seven cars, including the Punto and Corsa, gained only one star. Euro NCAP said the tests also showed a continuing risk to passengers of receiving chest injuries from seatbelts on impact.

The Transport minister Lord Macdonald of Tradeston urged car manufacturers to improvesafety for pedestrians.

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