I like to talk about cars – hence the name of the site. Over the last few days, Car Conversations have been dominated by the news of the Mustang’s surprisingly low 2-star Euro NCAP safety rating.
This result transfers to the local body, ANCAP (Australasian New Car Assessment Program). “This result is simply shocking for such a newly designed and popular model,” said ANCAP Chief Executive Officer, Mr James Goodwin.
Face to face Car Conversations along with automotive internet forums have been ablaze with shock, outrage and finger pointing. Generally, these responses have come from those that don’t own the car.
What has been most interesting is the response from Mustang owners. Some have gone through an emotional roller coaster that resembles the stages of grief. Others have gone all out to dismiss the results and justify the 2-star rating as perfectly acceptable.
Mustang owners going to great lengths to legitimise the result as a fault with the testing procedure or testing criteria are missing the bigger picture.
This entire situation has highlighted how oblivious some buyers were when making their new car purchase.
Cars can often be an emotional purchase. Emotion seems to be the determining factor in many a Mustang order. People have connected with the heritage of the car in a remarkable way. For many, it’s the realisation of a dream.
Unfortunately, for a significant number of buyers, overconfidence in government regulations, or the assumption all new cars currently for sale arrive in dealership showrooms with the highest possible safety credentials have led to shock at the crash test results. 
James Goodwin added, “There’s strong consumer expectation that a new vehicle will be 5 stars and a sports car is no different –safety should never be compromised.”
So where should the finger be pointed, at Ford, the government or both? As much as I sympathise with buyers in this situation, caught up in the excitement of the Mustang – they need to go no further than the nearest mirror when looking to assign blame.
Proper due diligence is necessary with such a major financial outlay. The term ‘buyer beware’ is very relevant to this situation. The onus is on the buyer to ensure the car has achieved the highest possible safety rating.
If the information isn’t available – demand it. Hold the manufacturer to account before handing over the cash. If James Goodwin is correct and customers expect a 5-star score, surely it is reasonable they take the time to check.
With so much information available to consumers, taking the time to properly check a car’s safety rating is not really a big commitment. After all, the vehicle in question represents a $60,000 plus spend. If an ANCAP or Euro NCAP rating isn’t available, the risk isn’t worth taking.
The Tata Xenon ute was rightly jeered when it achieved a 2-star rating when it launched in Australia. So too, the Hyundai Tucson when it scored a 4-star rating a few years back. Mustang owners in denial should think carefully about the context of the result. Arguing the point because of an emotional attachment to the car just masks the cause of problems like this.
All customers should insist on the maximum safety standards. If local testing hasn’t been done on the car you want, hold on to your hard-earned until it has.
Ultimately, it’s properly engineered cars with attention to all aspects of driver and passenger safety that offer the best protection when things go wrong, not the vehicle’s heritage.
Let’s start a Car Conversation, is it right for customers to expect a 5-star rating as a given? Would you purchase a car without knowing how its safety is scored by local testing authorities?

More: ANCAP safety ratings: hits and a miss