THE car world really has flipped its lid: a humble ute has just earned a higher safety score than a luxury car.
A new BMW has been slammed by safety experts in the latest round of crash tests after it was awarded a lower score than a workhorse ute made in Thailand.
The new Mitsubishi Triton pick-up due in showrooms next month scored five stars for safety while the BMW 2 Series hatchback scored just four stars after earning a poor result in the frontal crash test.
The result is remarkable given that it is more difficult for larger and heavier vehicles such as four-wheel-drive utes to score well in barrier tests.
The BMW earned just 11.34 points out of 16 after crashing into a barrier at 64km/h, while the Mitsubishi tradesman ute earned an impressive score of 15.22 points in the same test by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP).
The BMW’s score is one of the lowest from a prestige marque in recent years.
“It’s a disappointing result for any car maker let alone a luxury brand,” said NRMA safety expert Jack Haley.
“The technology required to get a higher score is well known to the car industry … it’s a surprising result.”
Meanwhile, BMW’s sister brand Mini also scored a four-star rating after not achieving enough points in the side impact test.
The massive improvement in safety of utes has been welcomed by experts given that trade vehicles are over-represented in crashes, one of the reasons they have higher insurance premiums.
“It is pleasing to see an increasing number of commercial vehicles scoring the top rating”, said Mr Haley.
“Many commercial vehicle drivers travel much greater distances than private drivers as part of their job, so they should be able to purchase a vehicle that provides the best protection.”
BMW Australia spokeswoman Lenore Fletcher told News Corp Australia: “We are seeking clarification from our head office in Munich regarding these results”.
“It’s not a bad result, the passenger compartment held its shape well in the frontal offset test. The (BMW) vehicle did score five stars in Europe.”
However, European safety authorities have been criticised for relaxing the requirements for a five-star rating, making it easier for less safe cars to earn top marks.