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The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) has levelled Ford's popular Mustang with a lacklustre two-star safety rating, but the manufacturer is not dismayed.
Crash examinations from the European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP) led to the safety-test results, which are determined from four alternative collision scenarios that saw the muscle car judged on its safety assist systems, pedestrian protection, and adult and child occupant protection.
The Mustang's poorest result came from safety assist testing, scoring two points – thanks to the presence of just front passenger and driver seat-belt reminders – out of a maximum of 12.
A lack of speed assistance systems such as speed limiter, autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane-keep assist technology and rear-seat seat-belt reminders accounted for the 10 missed points.
Child occupant protection was also judged to be lacking, rating 15.81 out of a potential 49 points, with rear passengers in full-width frontal crash scenario described by ANCAP as "not well protected with a risk of serious head, chest and leg injury".
Stronger results were achieved by the Pony car in adult occupant protection testing (27.66 out of 38 points) and pedestrian protection rating (27 out of 42 points), equalling four and five star ratings in each respective category.
ANCAP is currently realigning itself to reflect Euro NCAP-determined international safety standards where five star ratings are only issued to vehicles sporting a spate of the latest safety and crash avoidance technologies, a level to which the Ford Mustang was compared to.
Ford Australia product communications manager Damion Smy said these changes to how ANCAP safety ratings are determined are the reason for the two-year-old Mustang's low score in crash testing.
“Obviously when this car was developed there were different protocols, and when you look at other vehicles that have been tested – none of them have been tested for these protocols yet,” he said.
The sixth-generation Mustang first went on sale in 2014 in the United States, after which crash tests by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) saw an overall five-star safety rating issued with full marks given for the frontal crash test, side crash test and rollover crash test.
ANCAP chief executive officer James Goodwin called out Ford for the Mustang's crash performance under the new standards, saying the result was "simply shocking for such a newly designed and popular model".
"There’s strong consumer expectation that a new vehicle will be five stars and a sportscar is no different – safety should never be compromised," he said.
"This rating is not intended to shock or surprise – it simply presents the safety of this car against that of its contemporary competitors.
"I would encourage Ford to swiftly introduce design and production changes to improve its safety performance."
The upgraded 2018 Mustang was announced by Ford last week and is set to include AEB and lane-keep assist, which should positively impact the new model's crash-safety results.
Mr Smy revealed that these new safety technologies were a pre-planned part of the model cycle and not in response to ANCAP's safety rating.
Ford does not expect demand for the Mustang to be affected.
He said that while Ford was disappointed by the result, safety is important to the brand and has always been a priority.
Safety technologies like AEB are already available across several existing models in the Ford range, but will take time to reach every single one, according to Mr Smy.
“Customer demand in the sportscar segment is slightly different, so the priorities are slightly different for the customers … AEB and those sorts of technologies were always destined to go on the Mustang at some stage, and, as you will see with every Ford technology such as Sync3 and EcoBoost, will proliferate across the range. It doesn’t stick within one segment,” he said.
Mr Smy also said Ford does not expect demand for the Mustang to be affected, or for the existing 6329 Australian Mustang owners and customers currently awaiting delivery of their order to have strong reactions to the low safety-score.
“In terms of pedestrian and adult occupant safety, two of the key areas, the Mustang did really, really well and the area that it didn’t do so well in were things like lane-keep assist,” he said.
“Obviously the cars do not have that (safety aids), so buyers haven’t seen that as a deal breaker for their experience of the Mustang.
“Mustang has technology, Mustang has safety and we expect Mustang to remain our hero vehicle.”
ANCAP's last two-star crash rating was issued to the Chery J11, which has since been discontinued in October 2011.