Renault Zoe awarded zero-star Euro NCAP safety rating

The all-electric Renault Zoe hatchback is only the third car in history to receive zero stars from Euro NCAP, despite the previous model scoring top marks

The Renault Zoe has become only the third car in Euro NCAP history to be awarded zero stars for crash safety. The previous version of the popular electric hatchback received a five-star rating in 2013, but thanks to more stringent safety tests and the omission of certain safety features, the latest model scored poorly.

The Zoe didn’t fare well in the frontal offset crash test, with Euro NCAP citing poor protection of the driver’s chest area. It performed worse in the side pole test, however, which simulates hitting a tree or lamppost side-on. According to Euro NCAP, a third of these accidents are serious or fatal, and the pole struck the test dummy’s head when testing the Zoe.

A key factor in the Zoe’s poor performance is the removal of a head airbag, which protects occupants from side impacts. Renault introduced this type of airbag in 2001 with the Laguna 2, which became the first car to achieve a five-star Euro NCAP rating. The Zoe’s 43% adult occupant safety score is the lowest in the past 11 years of testing.

Renault has released a statement in response to the Zoe’s results, emphasising that while the car achieved a worse star rating than the previous model, this can be attributed to changes in the Euro NCAP assessment regime since 2013:

“Renault takes note of the results published by Euro NCAP following specific tests on Zoe E-Tech Electric according to its new protocol implemented in 2020. First of all, Renault reaffirms that Zoe E-Tech Electric is a safe vehicle, which complies with all regulatory safety standards. These standards are constantly evolving and are becoming more stringent in all domains, especially in safety. Renault therefore continually improves its offer in order to comply with the regulations applicable where its vehicles are sold.”

It continues: “Zoe was launched in 2013 and received five stars with Euro NCAP protocol at that time. The Euro NCAP protocol has since 2013 undergone five changes. With the same equipment, a model can lose up to two stars in each protocol change.”

In Euro NCAP’s safety assist assessment, the Zoe scored 14%, which is 61% lower than the average this year. However, Renault pointed out that: “The evolution of the current Zoe was decided in 2017 adapting the passive safety equipment to real accidentology and updating the car with state of the art ADAS equipments such as Advanced Emergency Braking with Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Lane Departure Alert and Lane Keeping Assist, using a radar and a camera.”

Elsewhere in the Renault group staple, the Dacia Spring EV, which could arrive in the UK next year, also scored poorly, with a one-star rating. Testing revealed a chance of severe chest compression and a shortage of leg and pelvis protection during frontal impacts, resulting in an adult occupant protection score of (49%). Crashes could result in serious head and neck injuries for child occupants, too.

There were some strong performers this year, however. The BMW iX scored five stars, with an impressive adult occupant protection result of 91%. The Genesis G70 and GV70 also received top marks, continuing the brand’s 100% record of five-star cars thus far. The Mercedes EQS achieved the highest adult occupant protection rating of all in 2021, scoring 96%.

Find out how car safety has changed over the years...

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