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Crash tests reveal hidden risk of buying a cheap car in some markets

Crash tests reveal hidden risk of buying a cheap car in some markets
Tristan Honeywill

A cheap car can be appealing: nobody wants to spend more than they can afford. But at what point does a cheap car become a bad deal? Crash tests by Latin NCAP and Euro NCAP give an idea of where consumers might want to draw the line.

South America’s answer to Euro NCAP, Latin NCAP, has started assessing the safety of some of the worst new cars money can buy. To make sure your next car is also a safe car, it’s worth checking the local crash test results before you buy. And, as cars like the Dacia Lodgy and Nissan Evalia show, sometimes even a cheap car in Europe can shortchange buyers on safety.

In Latin America, a cheap car from Volkswagen, Ford, Chevrolet, Nissan, Renault, Fiat, Suzuki and Peugeot can cost as little as EUR 9,000 or US$12,000. However, with no minimum crash protection standards, safety seems to be one of the first casualties when making a cheap car.

In Latin NCAP’s latest results, the Chevrolet Agile, Nissan Tsuru and Renault Clio Mio all scored zero stars. Absent airbags and vehicle structures that collapse onto the people inside in a crash are the main problems. In the case of the Nissan Tsuru, there was no three-point seatbelt in the back, so it’s impossible to fit a baby seat.

These brands produce good, safe cars at affordable prices for buyers in other parts of the world. Most of them say that they design all their cars to higher standards than regulations and consumer crash tests require. The true test is what you do when you think nobody is watching. That’s what has happened in Latin America and why it’s best always to check the crash test results before buying any vehicle, not just a cheap one.

Read more about the global carmakers with double standards on safety


Latin NCAP’s worst performing cars so far

VW Gol Trend

VW Golf frontal crash test

Unacceptably high risk of life threatening injury to the driver’s head presented by the steering wheel. Seatbelts incapable of preventing the driver’s chest from impacting the steering wheel

Ford Ka Fly Viral

Ford Ka Fly Viral frontal crash test

The passenger’s head and chest hit the steering wheel so hard that the rim was torn off the column

Chevrolet Agile

Chevrolet-Agile frontal crash test

Bodyshell unstable and footwell area ruptured during the crash-test

Peugeot 207 Compact

Peugeot 207 Compact frontal crash test

The car has an airbag control light that lights up when the car starts. Unfortunately there are no airbags

Renault Clio Mio

Renault Clio Mio frontal crash test

Driver’s chest protection was weak due to contact with the steering wheel. The bodyshell was rated as unstable and had reached its limit


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