Mike Stevens | Oct 5, 2012

A new round of crash testing by the Australian New Car Assessment Program has seen 5-Star safety ratings handed down to Volkswagen's new Up city car, and all three Opel models.

The result comes with a special nod to Volkswagen, ANCAP Chair Lauchlan McIntosh praising the carmaker's decision to prioritise crash avoidance technology over creature comforts.

"It is hard to fathom why features that protect vehicle occupants are sold as optional extras by most manufacturers, yet alloy wheels and leather seats, for instance, come as standard," McIntosh said.

"The move by Volkswagen to include Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB, or City Emergency Braking in Volkswagen's words) in the Up as standard across all variants is a welcome change."

City Emergency Braking works at speeds between 5 to 30km/h, detecting the risk of an impending collision and reducing accident severity by initiating automatic brake interventions.

McIntosh urged carmakers to follow Volkswagen's lead. With future ANCAP testing set to focus on crash avoidance technology, manufacturers may soon have little choice.

AEB is currently under consideration as a mandatory feature for any car to achieve a 5-Star rating. McIntosh said that fast adoption of the technology could see the national road toll halved by 2020.

With the news today of its top safety rating, Volkswagen is also trumpeting the $13,990 Up's new status as Australia's most affordable 5-Star car.

“The Up represents a new benchmark in affordable safety, and makes the latest in Volkswagen’s life-saving technology available to the growing sub light segment," Volkswagen Australia Managing Director Anke Koeckler said.

ANCAP has also issued 5-Star crash safety ratings for Opel's three-car Australian line-up: the light Corsa hatch, small Astra hatch and wagon range, and the midsized Insignia sedan and wagon.

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