THE PEOPLE'S SAFETY CAR: Volkswagen's seventh-generation Golf is being hailed as bringing advanced safety systems to the masses. Image: VW ~ Supplied
LONDON, England - Volkswagen's Golf and Passat have been praised by vehicle safety experts at the Thatcham Research Centre for delivering a 45% reduction in third-party personal injury claims.
Why? Because they have the latest automatic braking systems.
All except the entry S models have adaptive cruise control that includes radar-controlled distance monitoring in the grille with city emergency braking, and cruise control.
Since launch, third-party claims on the latest Golf are 45% less than for the equivalent "Small Family Car" control group.
Matthew Avery, director of safety at Thatcham, said: "These findings are based on the equivalent of more than 7000 seventh-generation Golf units insured for 12 months and come from claims data from our insurance members.
"We were surprised when we saw figures based on an initial small sample - they exceeded our own performance testing. However the figures held up, even after almost doubling the sample group, and have therefore given us a glimpse of what safety on UK roads could look like in the future."
Although such systems are not new, it was the Golf that "democratised safety" and brought ACC to a wide audience. The system operates from 30 to 160km/h with a manual gearbox and, with a DSG automatic gearbox, can slow right down to a stop.
In normal driving ACC maintains a selected speed and a defined distance from the vehicle ahead and it automatically brakes or accelerates in flowing traffic to maintain that distance, even preparing the brakes for an emergency stop.
If the driver fails to brake after an audible warning the system automatically generates sufficient brake pressure to help avoid a collision. Should the driver not react at all, the car will react itself.
STANDARD FITTING TREND TO CONTINUE
Avery said: "If the performance of latest auto-emergency brakes translates to the real world, as expected, then we should see third-party personal injury claims continuing to reduce."
Commenting on the findings, Alex Smith, director of Volkswagen UK, said: ‘We knew the fitment of ACC was significant when we launched the Golf and this was shown in reduced insurance-group ratings from Thatcham.
To have even greater than expected reductions reflected in real accident data is fantastic, as we know we’re contributing to cutting the human and financial impacts of accidents as well. The trend towards standard fitment is also set to continue as new vehicles are launched."
SAFE STANDARD PASSAT: The above diagram illustrates how Adaptive Cruise Control and Front Assist systems work on the Volkswagen Passat. Image: VW