/ Motoring

Has Jeep lost its safety direction with the Compass?

The latest batch of Euro NCAP safety results is a small, but significant one. There are new tougher NCAP assessment criteria and one car didn’t perform very well at all – the Jeep Compass.

We’ve become familiar with seeing mostly five out of five star cars coming out of Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) tests, which means we have to examine the detail of each result to differentiate between them. But the latest results included the first two-star vehicle for many years.

Was the vehicle concerned from a relatively small player in Europe? Maybe it was from one of the emerging industrial nations – China or India perhaps? Or could it be from a firm not yet fully aux fait with the tough requirements of Euro NCAP? Well, no, not at all.

Jeep’s poor safety report

The car – the Jeep Compass – is from a well-established US company, admittedly one recently rescued from turmoil by Italian giant, Fiat.

Jeep has a long tradition of meeting the strict US legal safety standards, and it should be familiar with Euro NCAP expectations. And the latest Compass was only launched last year, so you might reasonably expect it to be a ‘state of the art’ design.

Among the comments on its Euro NCAP ‘school’ report were: ‘In the side pole impact, dummy readings of rib deflections indicated a high risk of serious chest injury, even with the airbag fitted’. The car didn’t score any points in that particular test.

The report then goes on to say: ‘Test results indicated marginal protection against whiplash injuries in a rear impact.’ Perhaps less surprisingly for a compact SUV, it scored zero points in the pedestrian protection test.

Unfortunately for Jeep, the report isn’t just sent home to its parent, Fiat, but it’s published for all the world to see.

Get back on the safe track

The last cars to score such low marks were in a batch of niche market ‘pickup’ trucks, tested in 2008. So, this is a major slip-up for a car that was only launched a little over a year ago, with Jeep boasting ‘30 safety and security features’ in its launch material.

In a market with such a strong competitive focus on safety, my view is that a newly launched car scoring less than four stars deserves to be frowned upon, at least by those who think about safety when buying.

But anything scoring two stars is a disgrace. The Compass has taken safety in the wrong direction and its result automatically earns it our Don’t Buy recommendation. But it’s still available to those who aren’t up to speed with the safety performance of particular cars.

Euro NCAP has so far been an incredible driver for forcing car makers to improve safety, and in my view companies like Jeep need to start taking it more seriously. Otherwise they risk ending up with unsaleable products in their ranges.

mmap says:
9 March 2012

criterion is singular

Thanks mmap, we’ve made a quick edit.