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Hyundai Tucson achieves five-star safety rating after design change

The 2015 Hyundai Tucson recived a four-star ANCAP safety rating

An engineering update to fix an embarrassing four-star crash-test result for Hyundai’s Tucson SUV has been rushed into production.

The changes to the driver’s footwell — and a retest — have given the car an amended five-star result, which means buyers will need to check the build date to confirm they’re getting the top-rated car.

Hyundai Australia spokesman Bill Thomas says the unexpected four-star result galvanised the company, which prides itself on having a five-star passenger car range, into action.

“We had engineers on the ground two days after ANCAP released the car to us. The redesign was in production by mid-November, which was a month before the ANCAP retest took place,” Thomas says.

“The engineers made minor design modifications to the driver’s footwell area to improve the way it performs in the crash test, as well as a small change to the brake pedal mount to control its movement.”

This is a positive example of the importance of local, independent testing

The updates apply to Active, Elite and Highlander variants of the Tucson built from December 16 and ActiveX versions built from November 17. The ActiveX is produced in South Korea; the other vehicles are made in the Czech Republic.

ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin has lauded Hyundai for its quick response to the “disappointing and unexpected” four-star rating.

“This is a positive example of the importance of local, independent testing and ANCAP working proactively with vehicle brands to ensure we have the safest vehicles on the Australasian market,” Goodwin says.

The four-star Tucson result is the second shock for the Hyundai/Kia group in the past 12 months in Australia.

The Kia Carnival people-mover was afflicted with similar footwell and pedal movement issues when it was tested last year and similarly earned only a four-star rating.

The focus will now turn to the Kia Sportage SUV, which is expected to be crash-tested in the next month or two.

The Sportage shares its chassis with the Tucson and could potentially suffer from a similar issue. Kia Australia won’t officially comment before the car hits the ANCAP barriers.

A four-star result for the Sportage would suggest a flaw in parent company Hyundai’s left to right-hand-drive conversion process.

ANCAP first tested the Tucson in September and found structural failure in the footwell led to excessive movement of the brake pedal during the frontal offset crash test. That resulted in marginal lower leg protection for the driver. The intrusion was so extreme the vehicle only managed 0.41 out of a possible four points for lower leg protection, lowering its overall offset crash score to 11.46 out of a possible 16 points, well below the 12.5 points ANCAP requires for a five-star rating.

Testing of the revised model was performed in early December. The vehicle then scored 2.8 points for lower leg protection, which ANCAP rates as “good” and elevated the overall offset crash test score to 14.53/16.

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