How safe are new Dacia cars? If you look solely at the star rating from the Euro NCAP test organisation, you would have to conclude it is not very safe. This is because the compact SUV only received three stars in the latest crash test series. However, that is only half the truth.

The Dacia Duster and the Suzuki Swift were awarded three stars in the latest Euro NCAP test, while the Mercedes E-Class, the Volkswagen Passat and its fraternal twin, the Skoda Superb, as well as the Skoda Kodiaq received the highest honour of five stars. The X2 from BMW and the Espace and Rafale from Renault are categorised as 5-star twins of the Austral and X1 vehicles tested in 2022, a point that seems somewhat questionable.

Gallery: New Dacia Duster in EuroNCAP crash test (July 2024)

Dacia's no-frills sales strategy is well known, as the brand that previously dispensed with assistance systems in favour of affordability or only installed what was required by law. Suzuki has long been a manufacturer of small, simple and affordable cars. From Euro NCAP's point of view, it is therefore not surprising that the Duster and Swift scored no more than three stars in the Euro NCAP tests.

However, legislation stipulates that all cars must be equipped with autonomous emergency braking systems, lane departure warning systems, intelligent speed limiters and drowsiness detection. The Duster and Swift fulfil this obligation, but offer little more, even though they are equipped with these technologies. However, Dacia has always emphasised that its customers do not want an armada of assistance systems.

In terms of active safety, the Euro NCAP standards for a 5-star rating are significantly higher than the legal requirements. In terms of child occupant protection, the Romanian-made Duster outperforms the small Swift.

New Dacia Duster in EuroNCAP crash test (July 2024)
Euro NCAP
New Dacia Duster in EuroNCAP crash test (July 2024)
Euro NCAP
New Dacia Duster in EuroNCAP crash test (July 2024)
Euro NCAP

Let's take a closer look at the results of the new Duster. It scores 70 per cent in occupant protection (adults), where the driver's chest is severely affected in the event of an offset frontal impact with a deformable barrier. However, the Dacia achieves 84 per cent for occupant protection (children). 60 per cent for pedestrian protection and 57 per cent for assistance systems. The BMW X2 scored 92 per cent in this area and the Swift 62 per cent.

Dr Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General Euro NCAP said, "The latest publication shows a growing gap between the safety ambitions of the different car brands. The different star ratings are partly due to the segments in which the cars compete, but Euro NCAP also believes it is a question of a brand's priorities.

Some, such as Mercedes-Benz, Škoda, VW, BMW and Renault, believe that their customers place a higher priority on safety in their product offering. For Dacia and Suzuki, the focus is on affordability, but consumers should be aware that there are competing vehicles on the market to the Duster and Swift that offer a much higher level of safety."