A NEW ROUND of ANCAP crash-safety tests have seen the 2010 Volkswagen Polo top the list with a 5-Star safety rating, while the 2010 Toyota Hybrid Camry and the updated Great Wall X240 each scored a 4-Star rating.
The Polo's 5-Star rating comes as little surprise, the 2010 World Car of the Year already a 5-Star model under Europe's similar Euro NCAP program.
The Hybrid Camry's 4-Star rating - expected for some time and now official - has been the subject of some controversy today, with the world number-one carmaker issuing a statement this morning that calls the ANCAP testing process into question.
In a statement issued this afternoon, ANCAP Chair Lauchlan McIntosh took aim at Toyota, pointing to the fact that the Hybrid Camry's crash testing yielded results almost identical to the 2007 Camry, while the Great Wall X240 has leapt from two stars to four in less than a year.
“The 4-star result for Camry - which is the first of the environmentally-friendly vehicles to come off Toyota’s Australian production line - was the same result as the Camry tested by ANCAP in 2007,” Mr McIntosh said.
“The Camry Hybrid’s stablemate, the Aurion, received a 5-star rating last year and we think there was an expectation that this innovative vehicle would do as well."
By contrast, the GWM utilities that we tested last November performed poorly and were only rated at 2-stars, so this new GWM X240 SUV is a significant leap forward.”
The Hybrid Camry, despite being equipped with six airbags and electronic stability control, misses out on a 5-Star rating because it does not feature a passenger seatbelt warning, and its steering column is regarded by ANCAP as a potential danger to a driver's knees in an accident.
By comparison, the 4-Star Great Wall X240 is not fitted with curtain airbags and does not offer electronic stability control - a feature so important that the Federal Government has made it mandatory from November next year.
A statement released by Toyota this morning raised concerns that ANCAP tests do not take such systems into account, focusing instead on a vehicle's performance in a crash rather than the moments before it (or how well it avoids a crash all together).
"Toyota Australia acknowledges ANCAP as one measure that can help consumers identify cars that are safe," the carmaker's statement reads.
"However, ANCAP does not test the life-saving benefits of features such as vehicle stability control, traction control and anti-skid brakes – all of which are standard on every Camry."