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Proton cars are as safe as those from Volvo, the International Trade and Industry Ministry (MITI) has said. The ministry, in a written reply to Batu Gajah MP V. Sivakumar’s question on whether Proton has what it takes to compete with international rivals, said Proton’s newer models featured “advanced technology, high quality and performance”.

MITI elaborated by saying that current Proton models like the Exora, Preve, Suprima S and Iriz feature safety tech such as ABS, EBD, Brake Assist and Electronic Stability Control, in addition to things like “whiplash protection headrests”, six airbags and Isofix mounts for child seats. These features are typically offered in premium imported cars, the ministry pointed out.

“Some Proton models even offer features of added value in terms of comfort and safety of passengers,” the ministry said in its statement, adding that these characteristics, when combined with “Lotus Ride and Handling”, has helped elevate the standard of Proton vehicles.

ESC stability control is standard across the Iriz range, while the top model features six airbags

It was highlighted that Proton’s recent models scored the maximum five stars in the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme (ANCAP) and Asean NCAP crash tests. “This rating puts the Proton car models on par with other popular car makes like BMW, Volvo, Toyota and Honda,” it added.

For real? Well, the Preve and Suprima S did score five-star ANCAP ratings when they were tested in 2013. As for the Iriz, Proton initially claimed a five-star ANCAP rating, before later revealing that it actually meant five-star Asean NCAP.

When queried on the matter, Proton said that the Iriz was developed with a five-star target and internal testing showed that it can achieve that, but as of today, ANCAP results for the Iriz have yet to be published on the body’s website.

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For the latest round of ANCAP crash tests, the above graphic shows the minimum protection a car must provide to get a five-star rating. The results are based on a frontal offset test conducted at 64 km/h, where 40% of the car (on the driver’s side) makes contact with a crushable aluminium barrier at the above speed.

The test car will have two adult dummies in the front seat; the rear seat has an 18-month old child dummy and a three year old child dummy, both in appropriate child restraints.

A green rating must be achieved for the driver’s head, body, thighs and feet. For the passenger, yellow for the chest is allowed. Yellow is also permissible for the driver’s lower legs and the passenger’s right lower leg. Green basically means a high level of protection while yellow means only a slight chance of serious injury to areas which are not likely to be life threatening. Check out the Preve and Suprima S’ crash test results in our CarBase.my database.

Do note that a car with a five-star rating from a few years ago might not not qualify for it today, because NCAP organisations raise the bar every periodically.

For example, Euro NCAP has required cars to be equipped with some form of autonomous emergency braking (Volvo’s City Safety and Ford’s Active City Stop are examples) to achieve five stars since 2014. AEB systems can help avoid crashes or reduce their severity by warning the driver of an imminent crash and supporting his/her braking response, or even braking the car independently of the driver’s action.

Currently, there are no Proton models with AEB. However, we have seen Proton testing out the LG ADAS stereo camera on an Iriz prototype, something, when integrated, would provide the Proton with AEB functions.