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Hyundai Tucson slammed over four star safety rating

This Korean SUV scores five stars in Europe, but local crash testing has found not all cars are created equally, even if they look the same.

Safety authorities have slammed one of Australia's top-selling family cars after a "disappointing" four-star crash test rating.

Most new cars earn five stars, but Australian testing of the new Hyundai Tucson SUV found the right-hand-drive version did not perform as well in a crash test as the left-hand-drive model, which scored five stars in Europe.

The inconsistency between vehicles sold overseas with those in Australia highlights the importance of testing locally -- even after car manufacturing comes to an end in 2017.

The four star result -- arrived at after the Tucson scored just 11.46 out of 16 in the critical offset frontal crash at 64km/h -- is likely to prompt Hyundai to make urgent upgrades to the structure of right-hand-drive versions of the Tucson after the foot well area was found to have caused injuries to the dummy.

Hyundai … engineers are currently examining the data from the ANCAP 64km/h frontal offset test

"The result is disappointing and unexpected for a new vehicle in this competitive class," said James Goodwin, the chief executive officer of the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).

"Testing revealed the structural integrity of the driver foot well was compromised in the frontal offset test and there was also excessive movement of the brake pedal," he said.

A statement from Hyundai Australia said: "Hyundai … engineers are currently examining the data from the ANCAP 64km/h frontal offset test in order to determine what changes may be necessary to achieve a five-star score."

The company said it "fully supports the work ANCAP does to improve the safety of motor vehicles on Australian roads".

More than 3000 of the recently-released Hyundai Tucson SUVs have been imported into Australia and about 2000 are already on local roads.

If any changes are made to future models, any vehicles that are already in customer hands would not be able to be fitted with the coming improvements.

"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 Hyundai statement said.

The crash test authority said the left-hand-drive Tucson recently rated by Euro NCAP received a higher score due to differences in the crash performance -- as well as a higher standard of safety features including a pop-up bonnet to improve pedestrian safety -- which is not available to consumers in Australia.

The Hyundai Tucson tested was bought anonymously off the showroom floor

A recall will not be issued because the Hyundai Tucson meets Australia's vehicle safety regulations, which perform tests at lower speeds than ANCAP.

The testing authority ANCAP is an independent body funded by state and federal governments -- and has over the past 20 years become the default standard for vehicle safety.

ANCAP does not have the power to ban vehicles from sale. It is a consumer guide aimed to highlight the differences in the crash safety of most popular vehicles on sale.

In some instances, ANCAP test vehicles are supplied by manufacturers, who subsidise the cost of the crash analysis.

In this instance, however, the Hyundai Tucson tested was bought anonymously off the showroom floor by ANCAP, meaning the car was just like one the public might buy.