The new Honda Civic hatchback has picked up a maximum five-star crash rating from Euro NCAP - but the independent safety body gave the new-look Jeep Compass a sub-standard two stars, saying it "did not demonstrate itself a strong contender on safety in comparison with other tested competitors in the same category".
The Civic sedan - to be launched here next week - was earlier awarded five stars. The Civic hatchback and the Jeep Compass were tested under tougher 2012 NCAP criteria, where vehicles must achieve an overall score of at least 80 per cent to get a five-star rating.
They must also score at least 80 per cent for adult protection, 75 per cent for child protection and 60 per cent for pedestrian protection and "safety assist", which rewards cars for safety features such as automatic braking to avoid collisions.
Euro NCAP general secretary Michiel van Ratingen said the results show that a five-star rating today means a lot more than five stars some years ago.
"Many carmakers have moved on and so have we," he said. "Cars based on older technology, brushed up and marketed as new, are not providing the same levels as safety as the newest models developed against the new targets.
Eight cars assessed last year also meet the more stringent 2012 requirements. They are: BMW 1 Series, BMW X1, Ford Focus and Ranger, Mercedes M-Class, Nissan Leaf, Subaru XV and Volvo V60.
The Compass arrives in New Zealand in April - but, unlike the model tested by Euro NCAP, it will come with six airbags.
"The Euro NCAP finding is a bit of a concern," said Jeep NZ marketing co-ordinator Dee Vermeulen, "but we aren't taking the Compass they tested. We are taking the model with six airbags. We are hoping that will improve our rating."
The Compass tested by NCAP comes without seat-mounted side bags as standard and falls short of the six airbags offered by most mainstream compact SUVs.
Active safety equipment on all Compass models includes anti-lock brakes, electronic traction/stability control and electronic roll mitigation, while multi-stage front airbags and full-length side curtain airbags are standard on all variants.
But, said Euro NCAP, even when tested with optional side-mounted airbags, Compass "showed poor protection levels, particularly in the side pole test", resulting in a low 61 per cent score for adult protection and 76 per cent for child protection. It also scored 23 per cent for pedestrian safety, and 43 per cent for safety assist.
The Civic hatchback, however, shined with 94 per cent for adult protection, 83 per cent for child protection, 69 per cent for pedestrian protection and 86 per cent for safety assist.
The safety assist rating was for Honda's radar-based Collision Mitigation Brake System (CMBS), an automatic emergency braking technology.