Three stars on safety for the Kia Stinger. Sounds pretty bad, but can you handle the truth?
This report is inspired by a YouTube commenter named Johnny:
“Hi John I think its time you show people your not in bed with KIA and talk about the poor crash rating the new stinger has . keep up the good videos” - Johnny
Johnny says I should talk about the Stinger’s (quote) “poor crash rating”. Let’s do that. ANCAP published Kia Stinger results on 13 December last year. Stinger got five stars in the Si, GT Line and GT variants, but the entry-level 200S and 330S meant those variants are three stars only.
Just to be perfectly clear, the crash performance of all Stingers is the same. The poverty pack Stinger got three stars because it lacks autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning and so-called speed assistance systems.
Above the entry level - and it’s a $7000 step, so not a trivial sum - Stinger is five stars. This is not very different to the Subaru Impreza range. Impreza lacks those safety assistance systems on the base model, but it does have them above that.
But Impreza gets five stars across the board from ANCAP, while entry-level Stinger gets three because Impreza’s results were published late in 2016 and Stinger’s were published almost a year later - and the ratings changed dramatically in between, to include that safety assistance stuff.
THE PROBLEM AT ANCAP
I’d suggest that ANCAP has botched - badly - communicating to the public that five stars in 2016 is not the same as five stars today. And this is not helped by the media, which is inherently biased to conflict, sensationalism and laziness.
‘Three stars for Stinger’ is a great headline - but without context it’s just sensationalist, lazy bullshit journalism. David McCowan, reporting for rudderless website drive.com.au, described the result as a (quote) “shock” - which is only true if you don’t know how the ratings system actually works. Read it here >>
Formerly relevant exhibit in the Museum of Ancient History, Wheels Magazine, published by those Bauer Media losers, ran the sensationally lazy headline ‘Crash Test Watchdog Hits Kia Stinger With a Three-star Score’. That’s far more clickworthy than the balanced truth.
Check what Wheels said here >>
Wheels also described Stinger’s absent safety assistance stuff as (quote) “vital” - which clearly it is not.
ANCAP boss James Goodwin is widely reported to have said:
“Australasian customers should feel let down that important safety features are being left out of the vehicles we’re being supplied.” - ANCAP CEO James Goodwin
I’d suggest Mr Goodwin should think harder and spend considerably more time worrying about how valid the results really are for Australia - because the Stinger from which the Australian results were derived was a left-hand drive diesel crash-tested in Europe.
And I feel compelled to point this out, because Mr Goodwin is a former journalist, and he has a communications person: The image above is from the ANCAP home page, currently (January 2018). It should be "...criteria are" - FFS. 'Criteria' is the plural. 'Criterion' is the singular. Therefore, either one's criteria are evolving or one's criterion is evolving. #FACEPALM
Apparently it's not an isolated lapse (right).
Obviously we drive on the other side (of the road and the car) we don’t actually get that diesel, and the diesel is about 100 kilos heavier. And the child restraint information in ANCAP’s technical report is only relevant to the European market. So there’s that.
In my view, Mr Goodwin might better occupy himself communicating to the public the dog’s breakfast that the ANCAP rating system has become, now that two five-star ratings for current vehicles on ANCAPs website can easily mean two different things.
He might also want to deal with the cash-strapped company’s increasing reliance on left-drive Euro crash tests for Australian results. Personal opinion.
QUEST FOR CLARITY
I’d really like to see safety ratings that are much more about me walking away uninjured after a crash - because this five-star to three-star fiasco scenario playing out now with Stinger will lead many people who do not understand the detail (like Johnny, above) to form the view that the Stinger is unsafe in a crash - something he clearly implies I should come clean about.
This exemplifies the disgraceful inadequacy of ANCAP’s arbitrary definitions of safety. If you go on ANCAP’s website right now, current entry-level Impreza is a five-star car. Entry Stinger is three. Meanwhile, in the real world, they’re about as safe as each other.
Stinger’s three-star result is very different to what those arseholes at Ford did with the Mustang - which crashed badly across the board and was also stripped of safety assistance technology for Australia and Europe because Ford bet the farm that Euro NCAP would not test the Mustang. (According to the Secretary General of Euro NCAP.) More on that here >>
Critical Crash Scores: Stinger Vs Mustang Vs X3
Protection scores (%)
Here’s the ANCAP crash performance for the Stinger and the Mustang, and you can see the Stinger is significantly better.
BMW X3 is there for reference - and you can see the Stinger crashed about the same as the X3, which is to say, quite well.
Without fundamental re-engineering, Mustang remains unsafe in a crash.
You can verify all this on ANCAP’s website. It’s not just a matter of fitting the assistance stuff.
THE BUSINESS CASE
If the world were ideal, Kia would put all the safety assistance stuff in base-model Stinger. Subaru would do the same with Impreza.
Unfortunately, carmakers need to make the business case work. And that’s a commercial balancing act where price-sensitivity and sales targets collide.
Carmakers negotiate with the factory about specs and pricing to make the business case viable. Obviously, Kia needed a list price starting under $50,000 to make the business case work. And the concessions there included removing AEB and lane-keeping assistance.
To address briefly Johnny’s point about who I’m folk-dancing with, horizontally, I’m not in bed with Kia or any other carmaker - but people are of course free to draw their own conclusions. Like I care.
I tend to recommend Kia, Hyundai, Subaru and Mazda to mainstream car buyers. I have a preference for those brands, which is informed by the quality of the vehicles, the value, the performance, and the calibre of the support you get if something goes wrong. These preferences are not informed by some undisclosed river of cash flowing into my bank account.
I have no wish to channel some 21st Century version of Faust with any car company making like Mephistopheles. Bugger that. I have preferences for Panasonic video cameras, Ted Baker shirts, Casio G-Shock watches, and ridiculous hats ... and none of that is paid product placement either.
I recommend those carmakers specifically because Toyota is reliable but boring and won’t even think about 12-month servicing and Apple or Android integrations. Because Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Suzuki got brain damage in the GFC, went totally Rip van Winkle and only seem to be regaining vestigial consciousness now.
Because Mercedes-Benz, the Volkswagen Group and Fiat Chrysler make some gorgeous cars that betray you, and then you find out they outsourced the customer service to Hannibal Lecter Incorporated - same with Holden and Ford, only the cars are crap to start with.
Kia Stinger is a very crashworthy car. If you want the added protection of lane-keeping assistance and automatic emergency braking, it's going to cost you $7000 extra. That's basically what the ANCAP fiasco is telling you.
Note how this most essential piece of consumer advice is absent from 99 out of 100 reports on Stinger's three-star safety rating. Says a lot about what the motoring media does in Australia and whether or not they're bothering to talk to actual car buyers - rather than merely generate impressions for advertisers.