India's largest selling compact sports utility vehicle Vitara Brezza has scored an impressive four stars in the latest round of safety crash tests conducted by UK-based independent body Global NCAP.
With the results, Vitara Brezza became the best performing car from market leader Maruti Suzuki's portfolio in India. The other products that have been tested by Global NCAP in the last four years - Maruti Alto, Eeco, Swift and Celerio, have all scored zero stars for adult protection largely because they do not come with airbags as a standard feature.
India has been trying to put in more stringent safety regulations for its cars given that 140,000 people die on the roads every year. From October last year, it is mandatory for manufacturers to provide airbags as a standard feature in all their new launches. It would be extended to existing cars from next month.
The Vitara Brezza was launched in 2016 but still came with standard double airbags, ABS, and ISOFIX anchorages that helped it achieve four stars for Adult Occupant Protection and two stars for Child Occupant Protection. Global NCAP found the Adult Occupant Protection to be good and robust. The Child Occupant Protection rating was given only two stars due to the forward facing positioning of the 18 month old dummy in the test though the 3 year old dummy received good protection. The markings for the ISOFIX anchorages were also incorrect according to Global NCAP testing protocols.
Renault Lodgy, the multi utility vehicle by the French car maker was the other car tested in this round. Lodgy, which comes without airbags in its standard version achieved zero stars for Adult Occupant Protection and two stars for Child Occupant Protection. The zero star result was partly due to the lack of airbags, which caused the head and chest to impact the steering wheel. The car also showed an unstable structure during the crash with deformations even in the rear door and a rupture in the footwell area during the crash. The lack of ISOFIX anchorages meant that the child seats needed to be installed with adult seatbelts, that could not prevent excessive forward excursion of the 3 year old dummy which impacted its head on the driver seat backrest.
"The four-star result for Maruti Suzuki's Vitara Brezza is really impressive. It demonstrates clearly the safety engineering capabilities of India's leading vehicle manufacturer," said David Ward, Secretary General of Global NCAP. "It also shows the beneficial effects of the Indian Government's new crash test standards helping to raise levels of vehicle safety. We are getting very close now to seeing India's first five-star car. In contrast the zero-star Renault Lodgy is extremely disappointing. Global NCAP had hoped that Renault had learned from the difficult experience they had with the Kwid. It's time now for Renault to make front air bags standard across their entire Indian product range."
The NGO that has been advocating doing away with zero-star rated cars altogether first grabbed headlines in India on the eve of the biennial Delhi motor show in January 2014, when it tested five Indian cars. All of them -- Tata Nano, Maruti Alto 800, Hyundai i10, Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo, fared miserably and scored a zero. Since then it has given heart burn to Indian car companies on numerous occasions. Ten months later, Datsun Go and Maruti Swift could not muster pass marks. In 2016, the base variants of the Kwid, Hyundai Eon, Maruti Celerio, Eeco, Honda Mobilio, Tata Zest and Mahindra Scorpio, all scored zero stars as well. Last year, the Renault Duster and Chevrolet Enjoy also joined that list.