The European New Car Assessment Programme has announced that the Citroën C6 launched last week in Paris is the first car to be awarded the maximum four stars for pedestrian protection. The executive-sized car is also awarded five stars for adult occupant protection and four stars for child protection, showing that occupant safety need not be compromised to protect those outside the car. Euro NCAP has been pressing for better pedestrian protection for many years to try to drive down avoidable deaths and injuries to vulnerable road-users.

The C6 detects when a pedestrian has been struck and activates a pop-up bonnet to give greater clearance between the bonnet and the rigid parts of the engine. It is the first such system to be assessed by Euro NCAP but it is expected that other similar systems will be introduced soon.

The Seat León is awarded three stars for pedestrian protection, reflecting a growing emphasis by some car manufacturers on pedestrian safety. The Jeep Grand Cherokee scores zero points for pedestrian protection and is awarded no stars in that category.

Claes Tingvall, Euro NCAP chairman said: "It is very gratifying that Citroën have achieved four stars for pedestrian protection. A few years ago, some manufacturers claimed that it was impossible. Now, it is clear that manufacturers who are committed to all-round safety can protect those outside the car without compromising the safety of those inside. Citroën's achievement is particularly clear, coming as it does in the same phase as a car that has scored no points for pedestrian protection. There is no longer any excuse for such neglect and Citroën are to be congratulated for setting an example, which we hope others will follow."

Among the latest Euro NCAP results released is a struck-through three-star rating for the Chevrolet Matiz for adult occupant protection. The strike-through indicates an unacceptably high risk of life-threatening injury in one aspect of the car's performance, in this case chest protection in side impact.

The Matiz lags behind other Superminis, notably the Fiat Punto and the Toyota Yaris, both of which are awarded the maximum five stars for adult occupant protection. The Matiz is also the only car tested in this phase not to have a seat-belt reminder system as standard. Such systems have been shown to encourage seat-belt use, essential for effective occupant protection.

Mr Tingvall said: "All but one of the cars tested in this phase had a seat-belt reminder system. That's great news. All of the safety features in a car are wasted if people don't wear their seat-belts and we now know that a reminder system is a very effective way of encouraging use.

"I am pleased to see that we have two more Superminis providing five-star occupant protection. It is clear that manufacturers are finding new ways to provide safety even in small, tightly packaged cars.

"However, we also have a struck-through three star car in this phase, showing that there is still room for improvement. Euro NCAP will continue to encourage all manufacturers to achieve the highest levels of safety."

Results are released in the Supermini, Small Family, Large Family, Executive, Small MPV and Large Off-Roader categories.

Summary of results

Super-minis

Chevrolet Matiz. Occupant protection: 3 stars (strike-through); child protection: 3 stars; pedestrian protection: 2 stars.
Daihatsu Sirion*. Occupant protection: 4 stars; child protection: 3 stars; pedestrian Protection: 2 stars.
Fiat Punto*. Occupant protection: 5 stars;child protection: 3 stars; pedestrian protection: 3 stars.
Kia Rio. Occupant Protection: 4 stars; child protection: 3 stars; pedestrian protection: 2 stars.
Mitsubishi Colt. Occupant protection: 4 stars; child protection: 3 stars; pedestrian protection: 1 star.
Toyota Yaris*. Occupant protection: 5 stars; child protection: 3 stars; pedestrian protection: 2 stars.
Volkswagen Fox. Occupant protection: 4 stars; child protection: 4 stars; pedestrian protection: 2 stars.

Small family cars

Seat León. Occupant protection: 4 stars; child protection: 4 stars; pedestrian protection: 3 stars.

Large family

Fiat Croma*. Occupant protection: 5 stars; child protection: 4 stars; pedestrian protection: 1 star.
Mazda6. Occupant protection: 4 stars; child protection: 4 stars; pedestrian protection: 1 star.
Peugeot 407 Coupé. Occupant protection: 5 stars; child protection: 4 stars; pedestrian protection: 2 stars.

Executive car

Citroën C6. Occupant protection: 5 stars; child protection: 4 stars; pedestrian protection: 4 stars.

Small MPVs

Citroën Berlingo. Occupant protection: 4 stars; child protection: 3 stars; pedestrian protection: 2 stars.
Mazda5*. Occupant protection: 5 stars; child protection: 3 stars; pedestrian protection: 2 stars.

Large off-roaders

Jeep Grand Cherokee. Occupant protection: 4 stars; child protection: 3 stars; pedestrian protection: 0 stars.
* Results already released.

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