Earlier this year, Global NCAP’s updated and more stringent testing protocols for Safer Cars for India programme came into effect. And more recently, the Skoda Kushaq and Volkswagen Taigun were the first models to be tested and awarded a 5-star rating under the updated protocols. What this also means is that all ratings awarded by GNCAP on models tested under the previous protocol are not comparable with the star rating for a car tested under the new protocol where it’s even tougher to earn a good rating.
It, therefore, becomes important to know whether a model is tested under the new or previous protocol. But how do you tell them apart? Well, GNCAP has set out two very distinct markers to tell the two ratings apart.
1. Yellow stars mean new testing procedure
The first and the more distinct marker is the separate colour codes for the two ratings. Under Global NCAP's previous protocol, adult occupant protection was marked by blue stars and child occupant protection was marked by green stars. Under the new protocol, however, GNCAP marks both child and adult occupant protection with yellow stars.
Carmakers often use GNCAP star ratings on model websites, brochures and even in print and television advertisements. However, as is the case, they sometimes alter the colour of the star rating to highlight it or for aesthetic purposes, which is why it is important to know how to read GNCAP ratings.
2. Date of testing must be specified
What you should also be looking out for is the date of the test, which is now required to be mentioned under the star rating. Essentially, models tested after July 2022 fall under the new protocol whereas a date prior to that means they were tested under the previous protocol.
It’s important to note that the GNCAP star rating for a model is applicable for up to four years, after which the car has to be re-tested or it cannot carry a rating any longer. This is because Global NCAP also updates their testing procedures over time, and what was considered the standard a few years ago may not be so anymore. This is also how the safety watchdog has been pushing up safety standards in markets across the globe.
Case in point, the Tata Nexon. The Nexon was the first made-in-India model to secure a 5-star GNCAP rating, and it is also one of the most advertised ones. However, last tested in December 2018, Tata Motors can use the GNCAP rating for advertisement purposes only till December 2022, after which the scores will not be applicable anymore.
Global NCAP’s new testing protocol takes a lot more factors into consideration – like side impact test, side pole test, fitment of ESC, rear seatbelt reminders and pedestrian protection – before awarding a 5-star rating to a car, which means it’s a lot tougher now for a model to get a high rating. Therefore, it’s also safe to say that a previously awarded 5-star car or SUV will not secure the same rating if tested under the new protocol.