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Crash test verdict on Corsa and S-Max

Published: 25 August 2006

The new Vauxhall Corsa – set to be one of Britain's best-selling cars – has scored a maximum five stars for occupant safety, in the Euro NCAP crash tests. Ford's new S-Max also got full marks.

But their pedestrian protection scores proved far less impressive, when the results of the latest tests were announced today (Friday 25). Although the Corsa's pedestrian rating was three stars (out of four), its detailed mark was 53 percent. Officials noted that the leading edge of the bonnet offered poor protection, as did some of its outer edges.

The S-Max's performance was even worse. Ford's slinky new MPV scored just 36 percent, which translates to two stars. As with the Corsa, pedestrians' legs were vulnerable to the leading edge of the bonnet. A spokesperson said Euro NCAP was 'quite disappointed' by the pedestrian protection results, although they were happy with the occupant safety performances.

Both the Corsa and S-Max were designed to meet new pedestrian protection regulations, which call for greater clearance between hard points and body panels to minimise the risk of serious head injuries. However, the new regulations are not as stringent as those applied by Euro NCAP, which explains why the S-Max and Corsa appear to have under-performed in those tests.

Occupants are very well protected, however. Three tests are used to determine this rating: an offset frontal impact at 40mph; a side impact test at 30mph; and a pole test, where the car is fired into a post at 18mph, to simulate a collision with a lamp post or tree.

The Corsa scored 94 percent in the frontal impact – impressive for a small car – and 100 percent in the side impact to secure its five stars. The S-Max clinched a perfect 100 percent in both disciplines. NCAP also issues a child occupant protection rating, based on the forces exerted on dummies in child seats. The S-Max scored four stars out of five, the Corsa three.

By Phil McNamara

Editor-in-chief of CAR magazine

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