Crash Tests Reveal South Africa’s Most Popular Cars Are Worryingly Unsafe

Combining for 65% of all new cars sold in South Africa last year were the VW Polo Vivo, Datsun Go+, Toyota Etios, Renault Sandero and the Chery QQ3, a group of five extremely popular models.

Thanks to Global NCAP grabbing the entry-level version of each of these cars and testing their safety, we now know just how well they could protect occupants in the event of a crash.

While talking about the first ever crash-worthiness test for cars sold in Africa, Global NCAP chairman Lauchlan McIntosh says that such programs have led to safer cars being delivered in markets such as South America, India and the ASEAN region over the past five years.

“Working closely with our partners at the Automobile Association of South Africa and with the welcome support of the FIA Foundation and Bloomberg Philanthropies, our new campaign is an important first milestone on the road to Safer Cars for Africa.”

David Ward, secretary general of Global NCAP, added that “It is good to see a four star result in these first ever African crash test ratings. However, it’s extremely disappointing that there’s a zero star car. Such a poor result shows why it is so important for countries like South Africa to fully apply the UN’s crash test standards.”

Let’s run through these results and start with the only car here which achieved a four star rating for adult occupant protection.

Toyota Etios

The Etios’ structure was rated at stable during its frontal crash test, which was conducted at 64 km/h (39 mph). This model also came with seat belts with pretensioners for both front passengers, and achieved a three star rating for child occupant protection when Toyota-recommended child seats where used.

It’s worth noting that only the Etios and the Renault Sandero offer standard ISOFIX anchorages for the outboard rear positions and three-point seat belt for all passengers.

Renault Sandero

Like the Etios, the Sandero’s structure was also rated as “stable” during its frontal collision test, offering acceptable adult occupation protection. It wasn’t quite as good as the Toyota, but it did do better in the child occupant protection test where it achieved four stars – the best in the group.

Volkswagen Polo Vivo

The Polo Vivo delivered similar results to the Sandero as far as adult occupant protection is concerned. Also like the Sandero, it did not come with seat belt pretensioners. However, using child seats recommended by VW, the Polo Vivo only managed a three star rating for child protection.

Datsun GO+

Here’s where this list shifts from acceptable to downright scary. The Datsun GO+ achieved a one star rating for its poor driver occupant protection, and a two star rating for child occupant protection using child seats.

The dummy inside the car suffered chest damage (impact with the steering wheel, despite the airbag) during the frontal collision test, and the vehicle’s structure was rated unstable overall. There was also no airbag for the passenger.

Chery QQ3

Like Mr Ward said, the Chery QQ3’s performance was extremely disappointing. It achieved a zero star rating and its structure was deemed unstable as it collapsed during impact – resulting in injuries to the dummy’s head and chest.

Aside from not featuring any airbags, this car also didn’t have a manufacturer-recommended child seat, which explains why it received a zero star rating for child occupant protection as well.

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  • YUDHA BAGASKARA

    most of the cars are imported from third world countries

    • PB

      South Africa is now a Third-World country. Being killed by cheap cars is probably the least of people’s worries there.

      • Bob

        South Africa has always been a third world country. Only a minority lived, what could be called, a first world lifestyle; the vast majority didn’t even have running water or electricity until recently.

        Being killed is a worry.

  • Bash

    People of south Africa be like.
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    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/af25802adee31dcd41a0484622008c4520420f5e40e08b25e6e03f1b81512dac.jpg
    .
    .
    .
    I mean we have to respect the uniqueness of demography/economy for every country.

    • Bob

      Most buyers of these shoddy cars don’t know. They assume there’s some Body in South Africa that ensures that there are minimum standards set for new car purchases in the country. The accident rate (and the related deaths) are at a sick level already and I really think cars like the Datsun and Chery should not exist anywhere.

  • Christian

    Well, they are safer if not as safe as a 10-12 year old car. 🙂

    • Bash

      They are safer than bicycles.. 🙂

  • OdysseyTag

    Chery QQ3 – shouldn’t even be on the market. Essentially an almost two-decade old Dawoo Matiz which design patents expired and Chery capitalised on. Should have actually been pulled out of SA right after its “Cheapest car in South Africa” angle failed to make a dent in the market.

    Datsun Go – honestly, is the real disappointment here. Being based on the previous-gen Micra, I’m still surprised by how stripped down Renault-Nissan must have made it to preform this bad in tests, and all for the sake of giving its budget-friendly price tag.

    VW Polo Vivo – essentially a 2002 (9N/3) Polo with a fresher face. Luckily, that particular model preformed well in the NCAP tests it was put through that year and spurred the whole “Small but tough. Polo” campaign. If rumours of it being replaced by the current outgoing 6R Polo are true, that would atleast be welcomed news as the country’s best seller.

    Renault Sandero – probably the best option out of the bunch all things considered. Dacia did a good job with this and the Renault front end gives it that extra familiarity. Extras like a touchscreen infotainment system and LED DRLs also make it the modern choice out of the bunch.

    Toyota Etios – feels solidly built in person as one would expect from a Toyota. My only gripe is that they are quite unattractive due to their sloped headlamp and grille combo along with it’s comical interior. That being said, for a car based on a second-gen Yaris, it holds up quite well.

    Also, sans the QQ3, it’s good to see progress as our previous line up of budget offerings consisted fully of 20th century death traps, namely the VW Citi Golf, Toyota Tazz, Opel Corsa Lite, Fiat Uno, Nissan 1400 Champ and Mazda Sting.

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