Latin NCAP awarded two popular cars in Latin American countries a whopping zero stars in its latest round of safety ratings. The Renault Duster and Suzuki Swift both received abysmal ratings, despite their standard safety features consisting of double airbags and, in the case of the Duster, electronic stability control.
Neither the airbags nor the ESC were enough to get these cars even one star for safety, and while the low ratings are a big problem by themselves, Latin NCAP was quick to point out that these same models fared much better in their ratings when built for other markets.
It sucks, but a Dacia Duster bought by a driver in Latin America is less safe than one bought in Europe. Unless, of course, that Latin American driver ponies up for extra safety features that are included as standard for the EU model.
Here’s a recap of the tests:
These are the differences between the Dusters sold in Latin America and the EU, according to Latin NCAP:
The New Duster for Latin America does not offer side body and side head protection airbags as standard like the model sold in Europe under Dacia brand. In the frontal impact the model showed unstable structure performance and a fuel leakage.
Latin NCAP said that passengers in the Duster could easily be ejected from the SUV in a side impact collision. It also said that Renault should recall the Duster because of its gas tank leaking in accidents. Yikes!
These are the differences between the Swift sold in Latin America and in Europe:
The Swift is sold in Europe with 6 airbags and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) as standard, while the model in Latin America is not offered with side body and head airbags and ESC as standard. The Latin American version of the Swift still offers standard a lap belt in the rear centre seating position despite the well-known high injuries risks of its use.
Low safety ratings among cars destined (or produced) in Latin America don’t surprise us, really, but they’re still not great. The Duster is made in Brazil and Romania, while the Swift is made in India and Japan. Like the Nissan Tsuru before them, these cheaply available cars are pretty unsafe.
Cheaper cars mean cheaper production. Something’s gotta give, right? Except that these cars aren’t that cheap. When we wrote about what countries top the list for cheap cost of ownership, I was surprised to see many countries in Latin America rank among the places where the cost of car ownership is highest!
All of this means that drivers who want their own cars in places like Argentina, Brazil, Colombia and Mexico will end up paying more than drivers in Australia or the U.S. — among many other “developed” countries. Latin American drivers are effectively paying more for cars that are less safe.