THE Kia Stinger sports sedan - one of the most hyped cars of 2017 - has earned a shock mixed result in the latest round of crash tests.
Two of the six models scored just three stars for safety while the rest of the range was awarded top marks of five stars.
However, all versions of the Kia Stinger will protect occupants in a crash to the same high level - an impressive 15.3 points out of 16 in the aggressive offset frontal crash at 64km/h.
The two cheapest Kia Stinger variants were awarded just three stars by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) because they lack driving aids such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane-keeping assistance.
Adding to the confusion of two ratings for one car: had the Kia Stinger been crash tested in Australia - rather than in Europe which has different criteria - all models would have earned a five-star score.
ANCAP applies overseas data to those cars it does not crash test locally. In the case of the Kia Stinger, the examples crash tested in Europe had 2.2-litre turbo diesel engines, which are not sold in Australia.
Australian and European crash test criteria align from 1 January, 2018, which will largely eliminate different scores on opposite sides of the world - unless there are technical differences to cars sold locally.
"The five-star Kia Stinger is a very safe vehicle," says ANCAP CEO James Goodwin. "But Kia needs to upgrade the models that earned three stars or delete them from the line-up if they want a five-star score across the Stinger range."
It is understood Kia will add AEB and other safety aids to the base models in early 2018 to bring them up to a five-star score, however the company declined to comment on the latest crash test results or on any future plans.
The lack of AEB on the two cheapest versions of the $50,000 Stinger is an unusual anomaly given the $15,690 Kia Picanto hatch comes with automatic emergency braking as standard.
News Corp Australia has been told Kia lobbied the crash test authority to not publish the Stinger's three-star result.
"They asked us to withhold the result because they say (the three-star variants) will only sell in very small numbers," said Mr Goodwin.
"But if the base model that we have in Australia was sold in Europe, the Kia Stinger would have been awarded three stars in Europe as well."
The Holden Astra hatch had a similar dilemma when it was released in Australia in 2016.
The base model was listed as "unrated" by ANCAP because it lacked AEB but other models earned a five-star score.
Had the Holden Astra hatch been tested to this year's criteria the base model would have been awarded three stars rather than be listed as "unrated".
"ANCAP made the call to leave the base model Holden Astra hatch unrated at the time because we couldn't derive a valid rating based on the previous testing protocols," said Mr Goodwin.
"If the base model Astra hatch without AEB were assessed to the latest criteria, it too would earn a three star score."
Mr Goodwin says ANCAP continually raises the bar when it comes to earning a five-star safety result because "we all want safer cars on the road".
This reporter is on Twitter: @JoshuaDowling
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