Safety upgrades coming to MG 5 sedan after zero-star crash-test rating

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The budget-priced MG 5 sedan from China will receive upgrades to its crash structure and crash-avoidance technology after it was hit with a zero-star safety rating last week.

Chinese car maker MG will fast-track structural upgrades and new crash-avoidance technology to the MG 5 sedan after it earned the lowest safety rating awarded to a new car in Australia.

The MG 5 last week became the third vehicle to receive a zero-star safety rating from ANCAP – beside the Mahindra Scorpio 4WD, announced at the same time, and the Mitsubishi Express van tested in 2021.

It performed poorly in both crash protection – and preventing injury for occupants – as well as the ability of its advanced safety features to avoid a collision in the first place.

Now MG has announced a series of safety changes designed to improve the MG 5’s crash-test performance for occupants – as well as pedestrians – due to roll out sometime next year.

They will be joined at the same time by a series of new crash-avoidance features – such as lane-keep assist, traffic sign recognition and a more advanced autonomous emergency braking system – which were confirmed last week.

The investment in developing the upgrades – which will be standard on all models – has been valued at $4 million.

It remains to be seen the impact of the upgrades on prices, given many of the new advanced safety features were omitted in the first place to keep the price down. The current model starts from $24,990 drive-away.

MG has not confirmed if it will submit the MG 5 to ANCAP to be re-tested in its upgraded form – however it is unlikely it would invest in the safety improvements if this was not planned.

The car maker has not announced any significant changes to the frontal crash structure of the MG 5 – or any more airbags – so it may still fall short of five stars in its updated form.

In its current guise, the MG 5’s scores in Adult Occupant Protection (37 per cent) and Safety Assist (13 per cent) made it ineligible for any more than zero stars – while it only scored high enough for two stars in Vulnerable Road User Protection (42 per cent) and Child Occupant Protection (58 per cent).

Physical crash-protection changes include seatbelt pre-tensioners on all five seats to tighten the belt in a collision and hold occupants in their seat, plus dynamic load tensioners to “manage the force exerted on seat belts during a collision”.

A seatbelt pre-tensioner is designed to actively tighten the belt in the event of a collision – and pull the occupant back into their seat. It differs from a conventional inertia reel seatbelt, which is only designed to prevent the seatbelt extending any further than its current position.

The current MG 5 is fitted with seatbelt pre-tensioners but only on the front seats, and only on the top-of-the-range Essence model. The entry-level Vibe is not fitted with any seatbelt pre-tensioners.

It is believed the new model will have these on all seats; Drive has contacted MG Australia for confirmation.

The company has announced a “calf protection panel” to be placed under the front bumper to improve pedestrian safety – as well as a “forward impact sensor” and an occupant monitoring system to detect passengers sitting in the seats.

Advanced safety technology will receive the largest upgrade, with traffic sign recognition (with a speed limiter), lane-keep assist, lane departure warning and a safe exit warning to be added.

The autonomous emergency braking system will be upgraded to operate in junctions – and prevent the car turning into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

The current model’s system is only fitted with car, pedestrian and cyclist detection, though in ANCAP’s test it was seen to brake for a motorcycle.

These upgrades were previously described as forming part of a ‘safety pack’. It was implied this would be optional on some models, however MG has confirmed it will be standard across the range.

Prices are likely to increase as a result, given many of these features are available on the MG 5 in other markets, but were omitted for Australia to keep the price down.

The current MG 5 is priced from $24,990 drive-away for the Vibe – making it Australia’s cheapest new sedan – or $28,990 drive-away for the Essence.

For more details on the MG 5’s ANCAP safety rating – and where it fell short in crash testing – click here to read Drive’s story published last week.

While it has only been on sale for a few months, the MG 5 was the third-best selling vehicle in the car industry’s ‘small car under $40,000’ category last month, with 758 deliveries – ahead of the Kia Cerato (782) and Mazda 3 (654) but behind the Hyundai i30 (1566) and Kia Cerato (1976).

Alex Misoyannis has been writing about cars since 2017, when he started his own website, Redline. He contributed for Drive in 2018, before joining CarAdvice in 2019, becoming a regular contributing journalist within the news team in 2020.

Cars have played a central role throughout Alex’s life, from flicking through car magazines at a young age, to growing up around performance vehicles in a car-loving family.

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