Hyundai engineers will consider structural changes to the recently released Tucson SUV after an embarrassing four-star result in local ANCAP crash testing.
The company was shocked by the unexpected result, which came after the car was awarded the maximum five-star score in European NCAP testing. The European car was left-hand-drive, while the local car was right-hand-drive.
The four-star result effectively means Hyundai has gone backwards in the five years since the Tucson's predecessor, the ix35, was tested.
In a 2010 test, the ix35 scored 15.15 out of 16 points in the frontal offset crash, while the Tucson managed only 11.46, with testing showing that the structural integrity of the driver footwell was compromised. There was also excessive movement of the brake pedal.
Despite the negative publicity, the South Korean maker has resisted the temptation to fire back at ANCAP and has sent engineers to Australia to study the findings in detail.
Hyundai Motor Company Australia fully supports the work ANCAP does
"Hyundai Motor Company engineers are currently examining the data from the ANCAP 64km/h frontal test in order to determine what changes may be necessary to achieve a five-star score," the company says.
"Hyundai Motor Company Australia fully supports the work ANCAP does to improve the safety of motor vehicles on Australian roads," it says.
The company is promising any necessary changes to make the grade, just as Kia upgraded its Carnival people mover after a four-star ANCAP score.
"Hyundai's intention is to re-test the Tucson with ANCAP as soon as possible," says company spokesman, Bill Thomas. "While the Tucson performed well overall, and is inherently strong and safe, it is not the maximum five-star result the vehicle was designed to achieve."
The result is disappointing and unexpected
ANCAP says most new cars now easily clear the bar for a five-star rating.
"The result is disappointing and unexpected for a new vehicle in this competitive class," says the new chief executive, James Goodwin.
But Goodwin acknowledges that Hyundai has reacted positively to the setback.
"It is encouraging ... that Hyundai has taken immediate steps following the test to make design and production changes to improve the safety of the model.
"ANCAP has agreed to test the vehicle once the design changes are in production and it's hoped the countermeasures will improve the vehicle's overall rating," he says.
The Tucson is not alone in getting a four-star result this year. The Audi TT, Kia Carnival, Mini Cooper, BMW 2 Series and Suzuki Celerio all failed to get the maximum rating.
The Tucson is an SUV favourite that was totally updated for 2015 to challenge the class-leading Mazda CX-5. It even grew slightly to qualify as a mid-sized SUV.
The crash rating applies to the 2.0-litre petrol two-wheel-drive variants.