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Family cars for safest driving.

Byline: By Steve Hughes

The Renault Scenic and Volkswagen Touran family-sized MPV models have been awarded top marks for occupant protection in the latest round of crash tests.

They each received the maximum five stars, with the Renault Kangoo and Ford Focus C-MAX being awarded four stars each, along with all of the other vehicles being assessed - the Mazda2, Mazda6, Citroen C2, Audi A3, and Toyota's large Previa people carrier.

But while occupant protection is generally very high, protection for children and pedestrians still has room for improvement.

The Mazda6, Toyota Previa, Jeep Cherokee, Audi A3 and Renault Kangoo all earned the lowest possible one point for pedestrian protection.

The eight vehicles are the first tested to the new child protection rating, with the Ford C-MAX being the first to be awarded four stars for protecting child passengers.

Apart from Audi and Mazda, all of the manufacturers have met the requirements of Euro NCAP's new seat belt reminder protocol. Euro NCAP's star rating is based on occupants being 'belted', so seat belt reminders are vital.

The testers say that all of the safety gains achieved by Euro NCAP over recent years would be wasted if occupants do not buckle up before every journey.

Max Mosley, Euro NCAP chairman said: "The latest cars tested demonstrate very high levels of occupant safety, giving Europe's car buyers a wider range of safer models than ever.

"Unfortunately, while occupant protection continues to improve, the number of manufacturers scoring only one or two stars for pedestrian protection is still very disappointing."

Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation, says: "All the cars assessed in these latest crash tests show that manufacturers have made considerable improvements to occupant safety.

"This is the first set of crash testing results where no vehicle has received any cautionary signs for injury risks. Yet pedestrian protection continues to be a major problem with most vehicles.

"Most cars gained three stars for child protection which shows there is room for improvement."
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 12, 2003
Words:331
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