Millions of motorists were given a severe jolt today when the results of a new form of crash test showed many models fail to provide proper protection in a low speed crash.

Two thirds of new cars currently on the market were found to be left wanting in the event of a rear end shunt – the most common form of accident.

And now with the introduction of leading edge dynamic testing by Thatcham – the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre – models that had previously appeared safe, in less sophisticated static tests, have now been shown as not offering proper whiplash protection to occupants.

And many other vehicles were shown to be failing too.

No less than 113 different car seats were tested.

  • 18 rate as GOOD (16%)
  • 27 rate as ACCEPTABLE (24%)
  • 27 rate as MARGINAL (24%)
  • 41 rate as POOR (36%)

Twenty-Five models automatically failed the examination because they do not have acceptable or good geometry – the initial sifting test which demonstrates whether a seat is worthy of dynamic testing

Matthew Avery, Head of the Thatcham test program said: “These results are very disturbing. Some manufacturers – and many motorists will be shocked by these findings.  Some models were thought to offer proper protection – but when we put them to the test on our dynamic sled – the seats did not perform as expected.”

“Our new internationally recognised protocols are extremely accurate – they have shown that seat geometry alone is insufficient to truly assess the ability of a seat to cope and protect in an accident.  In a real life accident this could result in lasting painful injuries.”

“Manufacturers are certain to be embarrassed with our findings – they will have to make significant changes if they wish to really protect people in a car crash.”

Many major models widely regarded as “safe” were given a Poor Rating including:

  • BMW 3 series
  • Jaguar X-Type
  • Honda CRV
  • Toyota Corolla
  • Renault Clio
  • Citroen C2/C3
  • Mercedes C-Class
  • Honda Jazz
  • Landrover Freelander
  • VW Polo

Swedish manufacturers Saab and Volvo were ranked amongst the highest performers.

The tests, devised and carried out by Thatcham and their international partners, have been conducted under the first global harmonised crash testing programme.

Release of results are being synchronised across the World – with NBC Dateline in the USA devoting an entire TV programme to the announcement.

Organisations, such as the Institute Of Highway Safety in the USA, the Insurance Group Australia and the German Insurance Association have tapped in to Thatcham expertise and experience and adopted many of their practices and protocols.

Peter Roberts, Thatcham CEO, said: “The proficiency of our Crash Research Team is of World renown. Thatcham continues to raise the standards expected of vehicle manufacturers in providing a safer driving environment for the benefit of the motoring public.”