The base version of the Renault Duster (with no airbags) was put to test in the second round of Global NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) tests under the #SaferCarsForIndia initiative. The SUV scored a zero rating for adult occupant protection in the Global NCAP results, triggering speculations about Renault’s concern for the safety of its users. However, for rear-seat child occupant protection, it managed to get 2 stars. The absence of airbags in the base trim puts the driver at a high risk of getting injured. This is the second round of crash tests. The first one saw the Chevrolet Enjoy and the Ford Aspire being crash tested.

When a similar test was done on the same Duster with an optional airbag, it scored 3 stars, while the rating for child protection remained the same. Surprisingly, the same airbag-equipped car scored a good 4 stars in the Latin American tests conducted in 2015.

On investigation, the global NCAP officials found out that the Indian Duster was fitted with a smaller airbag while the Latin version had a bigger one. The bigger size covered the head and the chest area of the driver completely, whereas, the reduction in size of the Indian version’s airbags makes the driver more vulnerable to injuries. Due to the small airbag, the head of the driver is likely to hit the steering while the bigger one covered it completely, even during maximum front impact.

With SUVs usually running at high speeds on highways, they need to be better equipped – at least with an airbag as standard. On a more positive note and to deal with such instances, the Indian government is going to bring in tougher safety norms for automobiles from October this year, which will pressurise carmakers to develop similar safer vehicles that they ship to other foreign markets.

Earlier in the month, Renault launched a new range of petrol engine and a CVT automatic variant in its Duster.