Flying the flag for safety
Chinese cars have often been punished in overseas crash tests. Videos online show the buckle of the 2005 Jiangling Landwind X6 and 2007 Brilliance BS6 in Europe while the Chery J11 sports utility vehicle scored only two stars in Australian evaluations.
The Chery J1 earned three stars and the Great Wall Motors' X240 four in similar tests, but mainland cars still seem a long way from the likes of Volvo, Renault and BMW on passenger and pedestrian protection.
Last week the Geely Emgrand EC7 and MG6 showed Chinese cars are made of stronger stuff, however, by winning four stars in the tough European New Car Assessment Programme, alongside the Fiat Panda, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Jaguar XF and the EV Renault Fluence ZE.
The Chevrolet Malibu, Kia Rio, Mercedes-Benz B-Class and C-Class Coupe, the Ranger Rover Evoque, Subaru XV, Volkswagen Beetle and VW up were awarded the top safety rating of five stars in the same tests.
The Geely and MG6's results 'mark a milestone for the Chinese automotive industry', says Euro NCAP secretary general Michiel van Ratingen.
'It is a clear sign that Chinese car makers are building on recent experiences and rapidly investing in better vehicle safety.
'Even with the upcoming increased demands, five stars are expected to be within reach soon.'
The Geely Emgrand EC7's passenger compartment remained stable in the frontal impact, with 'good protection of the knees and femurs of the driver and front passenger', the testers say.
There was 'considerable deformation in driver's footwell area', however, 'with tearing of the metal in places', Euro NCAP says.
In the side barrier test, the Geely scored maximum points, but in the more severe side pole test, 'dummy readings of rib compression indicated weak protection of the driver's chest'.
The MG6's passenger compartment remained stable in the frontal impact but the testers noted 'there was insufficient pressure in the airbag to prevent the driver's head from making contact, through the fabric of the airbag, with the rim of the steering wheel'.
Dummy readings indicated 'a high load for the driver's left femur, and the steering column adjuster lever was broken during the impact', and in the side barrier impact, 'dummy readings of rib compression indicated marginal protection of the driver's chest', testers say.