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Mercedes recalls Citan MPV to fix side airbag issue

Mercedes recalls Citan MPV to fix side airbag issue
Tristan Honeywill

Mercedes is recalling the Citan MPV in Europe because of the faulty side airbags highlighted in the car’s Euro NCAP crash test. The car received just three out of a possible five stars, a weak result for a company that promotes its uncompromising approach to safety. The company’s CEO Dieter Zetsche told German newspaper WAZ last week: “The [three-star] result is of course completely unsatisfactory. We will of course have to look into this.”

A service action is underway for the Traveliner/Kombi people carrier version of the vehicle. The window airbags will be replaced in around 3,500 models across Europe with 92 vehicles affected in the UK. Other versions of the Citan are not affected, said Mercedes-Benz, because they do not have side airbags.

Mercedes also said that it was waiting to hear from Euro NCAP to find out if the safety organisation would retest the Citan once fixed. Euro NCAP could verify whether the new airbag deploys properly, but the unsatisfactory safety rating is not so easily fixed.

The Citan is derived from the Renault Kangoo and there is relatively little that can be done to improve the fundamental safety. The side airbag’s failure to open properly during crash tests was not the only issue with the Citan: it also received low scores for its pedestrian protection and the level of safety assist technologies in the vehicle. Without proper investment and attention by Mercedes, a four or five-star rating is probably too ambitious for the Citan.

The Citan highlights the generally low levels of safety allowed in small vans. Several manufacturers sell people carriers that are based on small vans (Volkswagen Caddy Maxi Kombi, Citroën Berlingo Multispace, or Renault Kangoo for example). None offer the same sort of safety or protection that you get in a passenger car platform, complying only with the basic legal requirements introduced several decades ago.

It would be interesting for Euro NCAP to crash test the basic van version of the Citan – or any of its competitor models – to establish clearly how much less protection such vehicles offer.

Read our review of the Mercedes Citan


Side curtain airbag failed to fully open in both side impact tests by Euro NCAP

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