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2018 Mazda CX-8, Volvo XC40 toughen up for top crash rating

By Barry Park, 18 Jul 2018 News

It’s five stars all around for the first batch of new cars scored under the crash safety watchdog’s more tech-savvy test criteria

2018 Mazda CX-8, Volvo XC40 toughen up for top crash rating

THE Mazda CX-8 and the Volvo XC40 – the first two cars to experience the Australian crash safety watchdog’s now much tougher assessment process – have both earned a top five-star rating.

The Australasian new Car Assessment Program today announced both the CX-8 – a diesel-engined seven-seat SUV that’s only sold in two markets; Japan, and here where it is offered as an alternative to the petrol-engined Mazda CX-9 – and the Volvo XC40 compact SUV had become the first locally assessed cars to pass tougher assessment criteria introduced earlier this year.

Read next: ANCAP Car crash test ratings explained

The Volvo XC40’s score was assessed using data provided by ANCAP’s continental partner, EuroNCAP, while the CX-8 was crash-tested in Australia last month.

“The hurdles have been raised significantly for vehicles tested from 2018,” ANCAP chief executive James Goodwin said.

“We now test and rate against four key pillars of assessment, and across these we have implemented a range of enhancements to encourage vehicle manufacturers to improve the active and passive safety elements of their models,” he said.

Read next: How to read WhichCar safety ratings

“Most notably, we’re looking at the performance and effectiveness of active safety assist technologies, and the ability of a vehicle to protect a broader range of occupants, including children and females.”

The emphasis on children includes how well child restraint systems integrate with the cars being assessed. Crash-test dummies representing children aged either 6 or 10 years are now included in the assessment.

Also assessed – and gaining further weighting on what rates as a five-star performer – is driver-assist technology, such as automatic emergency braking that will help avoid or minimise the severity of a crash with pedestrians or cyclists.

Read next: What safety equipment should I expect in my new car in 2018?

However, while the top five-star rating applies to all front- and all-wheel-drive versions of the Mazda CX-8, only all-wheel-drive variants of the XC40 are covered by the score, with T4-badged front-wheel-drive versions remaining unrated because they were not tested.

Of note, the Mazda CX-8 offered “good levels of performance” in both the second- and third-row seats, while the Volvo XC40 “performed well across all areas of assessment,  offering emergency lane-keeping functionality and the full range of autonomous emergency braking systems”.