Polo, CT200h and Lexus IS get maximum safety rating.
The latest round of crash-test rankings has given five stars to a trio of fresh cars - while also giving them a backhander over the absence of safety gear that is standard on other models or in other markets.
ANCAP takes the VW Polo and two Lexus models, the IS sedan and CT200h hybrid, to task for the entry-level variants' lack of active safety features fitted in other markets.
As of this month, the Polo has emergency stop signal and secondary brake collision assist as standard. However, the base model does not have autonomous emergency braking (AEB), adaptive cruise control (ACC), driver fatigue detection and reversing collision warnings.
The Lexus CT200h also lacks ACC and AEB on the entry-level model. The IS sedan came under fire for the absence of those two items and lane departure warning - and for blind spot monitoring being standard only on top-spec examples.
The IS, however, earns praise for its 'active' bonnet. In a collision with a pedestrian, the bonnet panel rises to provide additional clearance from the top of the engine to protect the pedestrian from serious head injury.
ANCAP chairman Lauchlan McIntosh says the authority aims to encourage the car makers to include the equipment as standard. But it stops short of changing the requirements for a five-star ranking to include these features as standard.
“We are continuing to see the majority of these important technologies either being withheld from base variants or not available at all," McIntosh says.
"I don't think it is unreasonable to say, -if you make these devices available in Europe, why not make them available here?' 'If we are to see a significant drop in the number of lives lost on our roads, these technologies need to be provided to all. Safety should not be seen as luxury or added extra.
"Costs of road trauma are huge, with 30,000 seriously injured every year here. In the US, autonomous emergency braking is credited with cutting the crash rate by 25 or 30 per cent - a huge number." VW Australia spokesman Karl Gehling says the company's decisions on whether to fit safety features are based on customer demand.
"We have offered these options on entry models. The data suggest buyers of the entry models were basing their decisions on value (rather than safety) and the take-up was less than 5 per cent."
"The features on the Polo are class-leading and while we would love to be able to include them as standard they do come at a cost and we have to be conscious of what the consumer is going to bear. We could offer everything in one vehicle but if no one buys it there's no benefit to anyone."