The nation’s most affordable new car, the Dacia Sandero, received a low two-star rating in industry-leading crash tests, it was confirmed this morning.
New results published by Euro NCAP – the safety organisation that measures the protective credentials of the latest models – confirmed a two-out-of-five-stars score for the budget-friendly supermini.
The car was marked down for featuring safety technology that only mitigates impacts with other cars and is ‘not designed to prevent crashes with pedestrians or cyclists’.
Dacia says ‘the safety of our customers is of the utmost importance,’ but experts have accused its owner, Renault, of putting price before safety.
Nation’s cheapest new car scores low safety rating: The new Dacia Sandero was given a two-star crash test report by Euro NCAP, new results published today have confirmed
The new Sandero, unveiled last year and recently available in UK showrooms, is priced from £7,995, making it the nation’s least expensive new car on the market at the moment.
It has received rave reports since it was launched, even being named What Car?’s 2021 Car of the Year in January.
The Stepway crossover, which Euro NCAP crash tested, sits higher above the ground but is mechanically almost identical to the conventional supermini. It starts from £11,495 in the UK.
The latter has been subjected to Euro NCAP’s laboratory tests, which involves crashing a number of examples of the same model into different objects to review its ability to withstand impacts and protect occupants – and also reviews the effect on other vehicles and road users.
While only the Stepway has been tested, vehicle safety firm says the two-star rating applies to all Sandero models.
The car tested by Euro NCAP is the Sandero Stepway – the higher-riding crossover version of the standard Sandero supermini
While only the Stepway has been tested, Euro NCAP says the two-star rating applies to all Sandero models
The Sandero has been issued a two-star rating due to the ‘disappointing’ level of the Automatic Emergency Braking system it has, says the crash test experts
Part of the assessment includes analysis of the performance of safety equipment and technology that’s available in the car.
Euro NCAP’s main critique has been aimed at the Dacia’s limited autonomous emergency braking (AEB) system – a feature designed to mitigate collisions in urban areas by scanning the road ahead and automatically applying the brakes if it detects that an impact could be imminent.
AEB is set to become a mandatory requirement in all new cars from next year, though many manufacturers are fitting it to their models as standard ahead of it – and a series of other systems – becoming a legal requirement.
Euro NCAP has recently overhauled its testing criteria, adding a new focus on the performance of active safety technology – including AEB.
While the Sandero Stepway does have AEB, the ‘basic’ system used has been described by Euro NCAP bosses as ‘disappointing’.
In a statement issued on Wednesday morning, the crash test body said the Sandero and Logan – the saloon version of the same car that is sold in mainland Europe but not in the UK – ‘remain true to the budget brand’s ‘no-frills’ ethos and have a pared-down safety specification’.
It adds: ‘The basic, radar-only autonomous emergency braking system reacts only to other vehicles – soon a legal requirement – but it is not designed to prevent crashes with pedestrians or cyclists and there is no lane support.’
Autonomous Emergency Braking is designed to mitigate collisions in urban areas by scanning the road ahead and automatically applying the brakes if detects that an impact could be imminent
AEB is set to become a mandatory requirement in all new cars from next year, though many manufacturers are fitting it to their models as standard ahead of it – and a series of other systems – becoming a legal requirement
As part of new measures used since last year, Euro NCAP has been more stringently assessing the performance of AEB in new cars to understand how much protection to vulnerable road users they provide
Euro NCAP said the Sandero Stepway’s crash protection is ‘respectable’ – to the point that it would have been awarded four stars had it not been marked down for its limited AEB system
Commenting on the Sandero’s crash test performance, Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP said: ‘Safety has moved on and the biggest strides forward are now being made by using high-tech to prevent accidents from happening.
Clearly, Dacia have found their market and they’re sticking to it, but a two-star rating shows little ambition, even for a low-cost product
Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP
‘Clearly, Dacia have found their market and they’re sticking to it, but a two-star rating shows little ambition, even for a low-cost product.
‘Their decision not to offer a camera clearly is out of step with the market and disappointing as Dacia are aware that their cars will soon have to comply with the new General Safety Regulation.’
Euro NCAP did, however, add that the Sandero Stepway’s crash protection is ‘respectable’ – to the point that it would have been awarded four stars had it not been marked down for its limited AEB system.
Across the four headline rating awarded, the Dacia scored reasonable 70 and 72 per cent scores for Adult Occupant and Child Occupant protection respectively.
Low 41 and 42 per cent ratings for Vulnerable Road User protection and Safety Assist – in that order – dragged its overall mark down.
Dacia’s latest Sandero – unveiled last year – is the UK’s cheapest new car, priced from £7,995
Bigger dimensions, a grown-up look and lots of features at a low price earned it What Car?’s 2021 Car of the Year award
This is Money contacted Dacia UK to provide a response to this morning’s test results. A spokesperson said: ‘At Dacia, the safety of our customers is of the utmost importance.
‘We continue to improve the safety of our cars year-on-year and, as a result, each generation of vehicle is safer than the previous one.
‘Our efforts on passive safety have been recognised by Euro NCAP, achieving four stars in occupant protection for both adults and children, and very good performance in pedestrian impact.
The All-New Sandero and Sandero Stepway are safe and protect occupants to a high standard. However, we will take these results into account while continuing to strike the perfect balance of safety, customer expectations and affordability
Dacia official statement
‘In terms of active safety, which Euro NCAP has become increasingly stringent on, we have chosen to fit equipment with the greatest value for the customer, with AEB standard across the range and Blind Spot Warning available on the top-spec Stepway.
‘The All-New Sandero and Sandero Stepway are safe and protect occupants to a high standard.
‘However, we will take these results into account while continuing to strike the perfect balance of safety, customer expectations and affordability.’
Despite Dacia’s official statement, Thatcham Research – a UK-based vehicle security company – said the brand’s owner, Groupe Renault, is putting price before safety.
Matthew Avery, director of insurance research at Thatcham, said: ‘The Sandero’s Euro NCAP rating is a major disappointment and it’s therefore not a new car we would recommend. There are other cars in the supermini segment, whether new or a few years old, that can offer better safety and value for money.
‘Renault and Nissan both have five-star rated models in the supermini segment with the Clio and Micra, and the Sandero is closely related to these vehicles. But it appears Dacia has made a clear decision not to prioritise safety, exposing occupants and other road users to increased risk.
‘With this car, the active safety capability isn’t where we would like it to be and that’s a big disappointment in 2021.’
In an official response to This is Money, Dacia said ‘the safety of our customers is of the utmost importance’
Commenting on the Sandero’s crash test performance, Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP said: ‘Clearly, Dacia have found their market and they’re sticking to it, but a two-star rating shows little ambition, even for a low-cost product’
In contrast, the Euro NCAP’s latest report saw the electric Volkswagen ID 4 and Skoda Enyaq IV, along with the new plug-in hybrid version of the Cupra Formentor, all awarded the maximum score of five stars.
All three are SUV models, which have also come into focus in changes to Euro NCAP’s assessments since last year.
New criteria used by the organisation since 2020 has been tougher on SUV models, with their scores downgraded if they are found to likely to cause disproportionate damage to smaller models in a crash.
The three five-star cars – all of which are VW Group cars using the same platform – were deemed to be good all-rounders in terms of providing protection.
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