Five Indian cars fail global crash tests – Nano, Alto 800, i10, Polo & Figo

Five Indian cars have failed a Global NCAP crash test, failing to secure even a single star. To be fair to these cars, the London-based Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme), picked the base variants of these cars – all of which are not equipped with airbags, and hence the disastrous results. The base variants of the Tata Nano, Maruti Alto 800, Hyundai i10, Ford Figo and Volkswagen Polo were the five cars tested. (Scroll down for videos)

One of the key safety requirements to get a star rating on the Global NCAP tests is that the cars should be equipped with airbags. However, being that the larger number of cars that buyers choose in India are without airbags, these tests were conducted to show what would happen in the eventuality of a crash.

Representatives of all the carmakers were called to witness these tests as well, so that they could see the results first hand. However, carmakers maintain that as per Indian safety standards, all the cars here pass the norms, which means India badly needs to improve its standards for safety as a whole. India, in fact, holds the world record for the most number of road accidents and deaths in the world. Over 1.15 million people have died in road accidents in India in the past 10 years alone. Also read: Airbags and ABS are they worth the extra cost?

There were two crash tests performed on each of the following cars – that is two cars of each model were crashed at a speed of 56 kmph and at a speed of 64 kmph in an offset frontal crash that mimics a head-on collision one is likely to have on the road. These cars were shipped from India to Germany for the tests. Here’s how they fared.

Tata Nano

The Tata Nano is the most inexpensive passenger car you can buy in India. Its top-end variant, the Tata Nano Twist, is priced at Rs. 2.36 lakh. None of the Tata Nano variants have airbags, as it is sold in a very price sensitive segment. The car more than meets Indian safety requirements, but on the Global NCAP it did not do well at all. As per the test the driver is likely to sustain near fatal injuries, while the passenger too will sustain some injuries.

Watch video of Tata Nano Global NCAP crash test:

Maruti Alto 800

The Maruti Alto 800 is India’s largest-selling car. It again is an entry level car which has an option of a driver’s airbag on its top-end VXI variant. However, the Maruti Alto 800 that was tested was the variant without an airbag. Again, there are significant injuries to the driver and a few to the co-passenger, but it fared slightly better than the Tata Nano.

Watch video of Maruti Alto 800 Global NCAP crash test:

Hyundai i10

The Hyundai i10 is again a fairly popular mid-size hatchback, competing with Maruti’s Wagon-R. The variants of the Hyundai i10 that used to have airbags have been discontinued now to make room for the Grand i10. The car tested did not have airbags as well. The Hyundai i10 again had the driver sustaining relatively serious injuries, while rear-seat occupants fared better.

Watch video of Hyundai i10 Global NCAP crash test:

Ford Figo

The Ford Figo has a perception of being a relatively safe car given its robust build and bigger cabin. And to its credit it did hold up better than the preceding three, without too much structural damage to the cabin area. However, there are still some injuries sustained by the driver and co-passenger, as this model was without airbags. Only the Figo Titanium variants come with dual airbags.

Watch video of Ford Figo Global NCAP crash test:

Volkswagen Polo

The Volkswagen Polo is a German car that boasts of strong build and safety as its strong points. However, the model tested was the non-airbag base variant (and Volkswagen has now added airbags to all variants of the Polo!). The car’s cabin area held up pretty well despite the lack of airbags, although there were some injuries to the driver and relatively lower ones to the co-passenger. The Polo with two airbags managed a 4-star rating in another test.

Watch video of Volkswagen Polo Global NCAP crash test:

What these five car crash tests point to is the immediate need for better safety standards for Indian cars. Although all these cars meet Indian crash test and safety standards, the kind of situations one is likely to encounter on the road is likely to be far different. No wonder, India has the highest number of road accident fatalities in the world. Also read: Which city is safest to drive in?

At CarToq, we always advice people to choose cars that have the highest level of safety equipment in them. Always pick a variant that has airbags and ABS, as it is foolhardy to compromise on these life-saving features just to save some cash. Also read: Do we need safer cars or better road sense? 

Videos courtesy: Global NCAP