Johannesburg - The Automobile Association has released its 2019 Entry-Level Vehicle Safety Report for vehicles costing less than R180 000, and while it shows that progress has been made in terms of standard safety equipment, there is still plenty of room for improvement.

The report featured 27 vehicles, and the primary criteria for the ratings was the level of standard safety features fitted to each vehicle, although five of the vehicles were also given points in accordance with their South African Global NCAP safety rating.

These were the Datsun Go, Kia Picanto, Renault Sandero, Suzuki Ignis, Toyota Etios.

However, the association stresses that the ELVS Report is the result of desktop research, and specifically assesses safety features only. Thus it does not consider the actual structural integrity of the vehicle in a crash.

The report awards points based on standard safety features in relation to the vehicle’s price, and these include active safety items such as ABS brakes and electronic stability control, as well as passive safety, with regard to the number and location of airbags. 

After being scored the vehicles were divided into three categories, with only four of them achieving an ‘Acceptable’ safety rating. These were the Volkswagen Take Up, Renault Sandero Expression, Toyota Aygo 1.0 and Smart ForTwo.

The majority of vehicles received a ‘Moderate’ rating, including the Toyota Etios, Honda Amaze, Suzuki Ignis and Swift, Datsun Go+ Mid, Hyundai Grand i10 and Renault Kwid. 

It is worth noting, however, that the Datsun Go and Renault Kwid models performed poorly in their respective Global NCAP crash tests.

On the other hand, the entry-level Kia Picanto 1.0 Start, which actually has a decent Global NCAP crash test rating of three stars, was rated as ‘Poor’ in the Report, due to it lacking safety features such as ABS brakes and a passenger airbag. The Datsun Go+ 1.2 Lux, Nissan NP200, JMC Boarding 4x2, Kia Picanto 1.0 Style, GWM M4, Nissan Micra Active 1.2 Visia+ and Haval H1 were also given ‘Poor’ ratings.

While we would certainly advise potential car buyers to look at the Global NCAP crash test results before deciding on a car, research such as this can help to highlight the importance of actual safety features in cars. 

“Price is, unfortunately, a driving factor in people’s decisions to buy vehicles. What we would like to see more of is people considering other elements of the vehicles they intend buying such as safety features, which can mean the difference between life and death,” the AA said.

“These results indicate a definite move to more safety features in vehicles, but also point to a dire need for these features to be standard instead of optional, particularly on entry-level vehicles. There is no doubt that safety features such as ESC and ABS save lives, and the motoring public should be given these tools as matter of course in the vehicles they purchase, not as ‘nice-to-haves’,” the association added.

IOL Motoring