Fiat's venerable Punto hit the headlines this week, albeit not in a positive manner, as it became the first car to ever score zero stars from accident testing and validation body Euro NCAP since the introduction of its current criteria. The story was poor also for Alfa Romeo's Giulietta which saw its previous 5 star rating chopped to 3 stars.
Both the Punto and Giulietta are late in their production lifecycles as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles tries to eke out their lifespans and direct replacements models haven't been introduced for either as yet. The Punto, introduced back in 2005 received facelifts in 2009 and 2012 and remains in production albeit primarily in Western Europe for its domestic market.
The Giulietta, meanwhile, arrived in the European showrooms back in 2010, but after a long drawn out design and entering production process the pretty C-segment hatchback can in fact trace its lifecycle back much earlier than this date.
Euro NCAP, in a statement to accompany its latest results, said that it wants to revisit older cars that are still on sale to give consumers updated information, and, as well as the Punto and Giulietta, models from Ford, Opel, Citroen and Toyota were also in it sights. In the statement the European testing body explained its reasoning: "Faced with a competitive market-place and rapidly-changing consumer preferences, more and more manufacturers are choosing to extend the lifetimes of their models, often introducing only minor facelifts along the way to boost sales.
"To allow consumer to make a fair comparison to new models, Euro NCAP has updated the ratings on several of recently facelifted cars," the statement continued. "Apart from the Toyota Yaris, that could keep its five-star rating, most of these cars have dropped to three stars in this year’s safety tests. The list includes the Toyota Aygo (four stars with optional safety equipment), the Alfa Romeo Giulietta, Ford's C-MAXand Grand C-MAX, the Opel Karl and the DS 3. The most extreme example, however, is the Fiat Punto, which has been on sale since 2005 but is still a strong seller in Italy. The aging supermini is outclassed by every car tested in recent history and becomes Euro NCAP’s first car ever to be awarded zero stars."
The Punto that was tested was a Model Year 2017 example equipped with a 1.2 6v 65 CV E4 engine and 5-speed transmision in 'Easy' trim specification.
For the Punto's Adult Occupancy test, which finished with a dismal 51% score, Euro NCAP sumarised as follows: "The passenger compartment of the Punto remained stable in the frontal offset test. Dummy readings indicated good protection of the knees and femurs of both the driver and passenger but structures in the dashboard were thought to present a risk of injury to occupants of different sizes and to those sat in different positions. Protection of the passenger's chest was rated as marginal, based on dummy readings of compression.
"In the full-width rigid barrier test, protection of the chest of the rear passenger was weak, and that of the neck was marginal," its comments continued. "Protection of the driver was good or adequate for all critical body regions. In the side barrier test, chest protection was rated as marginal, based on rib compressions. A side pole test was not performed as the Punto does not have a standard-fit head protecting airbag. Tests on the front seats and head restraints demonstrated poor whiplash protection in the event of a rear-end collision. A geometric assessment of the rear seats indicated marginal whiplash protection.
The child occupancy score was just 43% and Euro NCAP commented as follows: "In the frontal offset test, measurements of tensile forces in the neck of the 10 year dummy indicated poor protection for that part of the body. Protection of the neck and chest of the 6 year dummy was marginal in this test. In the side barrier impact, decelerations indicated poor chest protection and weak head protection for the 10 year dummy. Protection of the 6 year dummy in that test was good for all critical body areas. The front passenger airbag can be disabled to allow a rearward-facing child restraint to be used in that seating position. However, the information provided to the driver regarding the status of the airbag is not sufficiently clear and the system was not rewarded. The Punto does not have i-Size compatible seats."
In terms of pedestrian protection the picture was mixed here, the Punto hit its best score, albeit just 52%, and Euro NCAP said: "The protection provided by the bonnet to the head of a struck pedestrian was predominantly poor or weak, although good in places. The bumper provided good protection to pedestrians' legs and protection of the pelvis was also good or adequate." Finally, there was a 0% score for safety assist.
Meanwhile, the Giulietta to be tested was a 1.6 M-Jet in 'Super' trim specifcation and its best score came out for the front occupany test where it gained a 72% total from the crash and evaluation proceedures; however the picture was mixed with Euro NCAP saying that there were positives and negatives. "The passenger compartment of the Giulietta remained stable in the frontal offset test," the summary started off. "Dummy readings indicated good protection of the knees and femurs of both the driver and passenger. Alfa Romeo showed that a similar level of protection would be provided to occupants of different sizes and to those sat in different positions. In the full-width rigid barrier test, protection of the chest was rated as weak for the rear passenger, based on readings of chest compression and shoulder belt load. Protection of the neck of the driver dummy was also rated as weak.
"In the side barrier test, the seat-mounted thorax airbag did not deploy correctly, getting trapped behind the intruding trim," Euro NCAP continued. "Dummy readings were not adversely affected but a penalty was applied to all areas protected by the airbag: thorax, abdomen and pelvis, and protection rated as adequate. As the same airbag is meant to provide protection in the side pole test, the penalties were applied in that test too. Tests on the front seats and head restraints demonstrated good protection against whiplash injuries in the event of a rear-end collision. However, a geometric assessment of the rear seats indicated poor whiplash protection.
For the Child Occupancy test, the Giulietta's score fell to 52% and the testers noted: "In the front offset test, dummy readings indicate weak protection of the neck of the 10 year dummy and marginal protection of the neck and chest of the 6 year dummy. In the side barrier test, protection of all critical body areas was good. The front passenger airbag can be disabled to allow a rearward-facing child restraint to be used in that seating position. However, the information provided to the driver regarding the status of the airbag was not sufficiently clear and the system was not rewarded. Because of this, installation of the belt-mounted universal restraints was deemed a failure. The Giulietta does not have i-Size compatible seating positions, so failed the installation test for such restraints.
In terms of the pedestrian test the score was 59.% "The protection provided to the head of a struck pedestrian was mixed, with roughly equal areas of good and poor protection," says Euro NCAP. "The protection provided to pedestrians' legs was good while that of the pelvis was mixed." Finally for the 'Safety Assist' section the Giulietta had few features that Euro NCAP expects and the score was just 25%.