On the off chance that someday you might walk into your local Ford dealership in Kalamazoo and buy a Brazilian-built Ford EcoSport, at least you now get the ease of mind that it got five stars from Latin NCAP, the institution that tests cars sold in Latin America, in Germany, using pretty much Euro NCAP standards. So it would seem that, as TTAC has previously reported, Brazilian cars may not all be deathtraps.
In its latest round of testing, Latin NCAP tested the aforementioned EcoSport, a new Ford Focus, a VW Jetta, a Brazilian built and for local consumption only Hyundai HB20 sedan, and a Chevy Malibu. For front seat occupants, all cars got 5 stars with the exception of the Hyundai and Chevy that got only 4. Latin NCAP also tests for child safety in the back seats. In the tests, the institute straps the kid into an appropriate seat and whacks the car. In this instance the Brazilian EcoSport and HB20 sedan didn’t do all that well. While the Focus and Jetta managed 5 stars in that test, the Brazilian cars only got 3. Oddly, the Malibu only got 1.
My take on all of this is that modern Brazilian cars are as safe as their projects allow. There is no difference in quality of construction. What really made the previous poor showing was that Brazilian cars have always been low on active safety systems. However, passive safety systems are all built into the cars. This kind of test sets a standard and those who play the game are rewarded. In the case of the EcoSport and HB20 for instance, it’s the second time the institute tests them. In its first test, the cars didn’t manage 5 cars. What was the difference this time around?
As reported by Brazilian enthusiast site bestcars.com.br a simple sticker sufficed. Yes, you read that right. On the car tested before there was no warning sticker for the passenger to remember to buckle up. On the new car there is, and Latin NCAP graded the EcoSport accordingly. The Hyundai HB20 sedan in the previous test had gotten a low score for child protection. Now it got an acceptable rating. The difference in Hyundai’s case is that now the car was built with an Isofix-type latch. Arguably, safety then has been improved.
Such institutions as the Latin NCAP do provide an invaluable tool for consumers and industry. For consumers, they provide a comparison tool. For industry, they provide goalposts. It seems that the Brazilian car industry has gotten a little smarter and consumers will be a little safer because of it. How much so is, however, an open question.
En passant, I am proud to say that this is the first time a Brazilian built car got the maximum number of stars. I have no doubt Ford will market this to no end and, in the end, this might be a good thing as it will get more Brazilians interested in just how safe the cars they drive everyday are.