The newly-crowned Carsguide COTY, the Kia Rio, leads the latest group of five-star safety cars in Australia.
A dozen safety standouts have joined the fives, from the Audi A1 to the Volkswagen Golf Cabriolet, but the rules will change radically in 2012 as ANCAP demands more protection for new-car buyers.
"The hurdle to get into the five-star game will be higher, although the crash tests will probably be the same," says Lauchlan McIntosh, ANCAP chair.
"Next year, when we start adding whiplash and some of the other 'roadmap' features, it won't be as easy to get a five-star. I think we'll see some new cars not getting five stars.
"In the end, the car companies will have to lift their game. We're ramping up the safety-assist technologies to get five stars. In 2008 we said you have to have ESC to get in the game. Now they'll need to have some of safety assist technologies. The manufacturers have moved. They have spent hundreds of millions."
Those technologies include everything from Mercedes-Benz's Pre-Safe system which pre-primes airbags and moves seats to City Safety at Volvo and the Subaru EyeSight system that includes lane-departure warnings and active cruise control. Some brands will have individual items and others will package a suite of safety stuff.
"We're going to say you need a certain number," says McIntosh. He predicts a rapid uptake of new technology as well as improving results from brands which are currently failing to make the five-star grade.
"At the bottom end of the game there are still a few struggling. But I think the Chinese will lift their game pretty quickly, and Mahindra too. Now governments and fleets are only buying five-star cars the game is over. The ADRs are almost irrelevant. It's that purchasing that makes a difference."
McIntosh says there should be another final burst of ANCAP results before the end of 2011and, without revealing any detail, predicts a couple of surprises.
"There will be some new results that will come out with four stars, which is a bit different to Euro NCAP. We're a bit tougher in the aggregation of the numbers. But four stars is still a good result."
"We're being a bit overwhelmed by the number of five-star cars and the interest from buyers. And that's a good thing. The latest five-star winners combine the results from European NCAP testing and local results in Australia.
“With the holiday period looming your choice of new car may well be a life-saver," says McIntosh.
ANCAP FIVE-STAR RATINGS
BMW 1 Series
Ford Falcon FG MkII sedan and ute
Holden Captiva Series II
VW Golf Cabriolet