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Fiat Panda gets “shocking” zero-star NCAP crash test rating

Fiat Panda given NCAP’s worst-ever child occupant score of 16 per cent; follows Punto’s zero-star score

The Fiat Panda has been awarded a “shocking” zero stars for crash safety by Euro NCAP, and is only the second car to be given so low a rating. The first zero-star car – the Fiat Punto – was withdrawn from sale just eight months after being retested according to NCAP’s latest criteria.

Like the Punto, the Panda scored reasonably well when it was first assessed, gaining four stars out of five back in 2011. When retested against current standards, however, Italy’s best-selling car scored just 16 per cent in the child occupant area – the lowest rating ever awarded in this category, and well below the industry average of 79 per cent.

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Fiat Punto scores first ever zero-star NCAP rating

The testers noted crash-test dummies indicated 10-year-old children in the Panda faced “high injury risks” during the side barrier test “due to head-to-head contact”, while readings “showed poor protection of the head and neck for both the 6 and 10 year children” in the frontal offset test. The Panda scored 45 per cent for the protection offered to adult occupants, and was awarded 47 per cent for “vulnerable road users” such as pedestrians.

Other low-scoring areas for the Panda included “weak protection” for the driver’s chest during the frontal offset test, “poor” whiplash protection for rear-seat passengers, “poor” protection for pedestrians “along the windscreen base and on the stiff windscreen pillars”, and a seatbelt reminder system for the rear seats that did not meet Euro NCAP test requirements. 

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The Panda’s lowest score was in the safety assist category, where it was given just seven per cent – a result driven partly by the fact it is not available with any driver-assistance system aside from seatbelt reminders.

Commenting on the results, Matthew Avery from Thatcham Research – which tests cars in conjunction with Euro NCAP – said: “These shocking Euro NCAP test results demonstrate an inconsistent commitment to safety, as Fiat has produced four and five-star cars in the past.” Avery added the Panda should come with standard-fit autonomous emergency braking “as the bare minimum” due to the fact it “offers so little protection in the event of a collision”. 

The current, third-generation Panda has been on sale since 2011, and is based on Fiat’s ‘Mini’ platform. This can trace its roots back to 2003, and also underpins the current Fiat 500.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) faced further woe from NCAP, with the new Jeep Wrangler being awarded just one star out of five.

A Fiat spokesperson told Auto Express: "We take the safety of our customers and other road users extremely seriously. The Fiat Panda complies with all safety legislation in every country in which it is sold”.

Do you own a Fiat Panda? Tell us about your experiences below...

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