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Renault Captur dropped airbags to cut cost

Renault considers the Captur safe enough without rear airbags.

This stunning admission, by Captur project chief Christophe Pejout, comes as he also admits the French company is targeting its safety development work to ensure five-star NCAP rankings and not because of real-world safety concerns.

The Captur is built without any rear airbags because Renault knew it would score well in NCAP without them and it would save money.

Pejout admits the Captur would be safer with rear airbags, while providing plenty of justifications for the omission. "It's always a money issue," he tells Carsguide. Asked straight-out if the Captur would be safer with rear airbags he answers "Yes".

But he says rear seats are often left empty, that ESP stability control means fewer side-on impacts away from junctions, and that the Captur is still likely to get a five-star Euro NCAP ranking.

"How do we make priorities? We put money where it is most efficient from a safety point of view," Pejout says.

"Crash cases for rear passengers are very low. The occupant rates are very low. With ESP you no longer have cars that wrap themselves around trees."

He admits NCAP scores are now a top priority for Renault.

"That is what we base our development protocols on," he says.

"In Europe, people don't count the number of airbags, they look at the EuroNCAP rating. For us, it' important to have a good EuroNCAP rating."

In the case of the Captur, Pejout argues that the Renault Clio - on which the new crossover is based - does well in tests without any rear airbags.

It was awarded the maximum five stars by Euro NCAP, a score transferred to ANCAP down under.

"We have the same safety menu as Clio 4 and it was voted by Euro NCAP as the safest car in its category for 2012."

This reporter is on Twitter @paulwardgover