A crash test has once again highlighted the perils of differing safety standards in different markets. Back in 2016, Euro NCAP tested the Suzuki Baleno, and while the supermini was a fair way of class leaders, it didn’t do too badly either. It managed four stars with an optional safety pack, and three stars without. South American market version, on the other hand? When Latin NCAP tested it recently, the score was zero stars.
To break it down further into the four categories, it scored 20 per cent for adult occupant, 17 per cent for child occupant, 65 for pedestrian impact and just seven per cent for safety assistance systems. The European version with the safety pack scored 85, 73, 65 and 43 per cent in those categories.
NCAP’s standards do change over time, which is why we saw the Fiat Punto getting the zero-star treatment when tested later in its life despite getting reasonable scores nearer its original launch. The main factor with the Baleno, though, is the safety equipment in the car Latin NCAP tested, or rather the lack of.
This version of the Baleno has just two airbags fitted as standard whereas the European equivalent also has side head airbags front and rear plus side chest airbags in the front. On the car tested, they’re merely optional.
This dismal safety assistance score of seven per cent was largely down to the lack of automatic emergency braking (AEB) and electronic stability control. The European car, which was discontinued last year, had the former included in the safety pack and the latter standard on all models.
It’s worth noting the zero-star Baleno is sold in various markets around the world, including India, where the car is built. It’s a hugely popular car in the country, racking up around a million sales since it was launched in 2015.
Also tested in October by Latin NCAP was a Toyota Yaris saloon, which is based on the previous-generation Yaris hatch’s platform. It fared slightly better than the Baleno, but only managed to score a one-star rating. Like the Suzuki, it only has two airbags fitted as standard.