The price-leading GWM Ute has achieved a five-star ANCAP safety score after acing the latest 2020-22 tests – with a caveat attached, that the crash-tester says vindicates its procedures.

    The GWM is the third ute after the Isuzu D-Max and Mazda BT-50 twins to go up against, and pass, these tests and thereby achieve a top rating with the latest date stamp attached.

    As with that pair, the GWM Ute was tested in Australia at Crashlab.

    However, only Utes built after August 2021 automatically get this score.

    Sold vehicles that were built between September 2020 and July 2021 can become five-star cars, but they need to go back to the dealer to have a few components replaced first – in a process we’re told should take no more than about an hour.

    What’s the story? It’s the first example of an OEM exercising its right under ANCAP criteria to submit an improved vehicle for a test under current protocols – on the condition that the company pledges to update all existing vehicles in the hands of customers to an identical standard.

    Said vehicle improvements were developed by GWM after initial testing showed up issues with the performance of front head restraint and steering column components, highlighting the obvious upside of getting the top score, which some fleet buyers set as a prerequisite.

    MORE: ANCAP ratings – everything you need to know

    Nearly 6000 GWM Utes have been sold since launch at the start of this year, and most of these need to go back to the dealer for the free running change.

    Post August-build Utes scored 86 per cent for adult occupant protection, 87 per cent for child occupant protection, 67 per cent for vulnerable road user protection, and 73 per cent for safety assist features.

    ANCAP commended it with full points in side impact and far-side impact tests for both adult and child occupants, and in testing of active lane support functionality. It also achieved good scores for driver protection in frontal impact crashes, and high levels of protection in rear impact whiplash crashes.

    It’s vindication of ANCAP’s testing procedures, and the positive impact they can have on vehicles, according to the crash test authority’s chief executive Carla Hoorweg.

    “I think it has absolutely done that [vindicated the re-testing policy] that because without ANCAP that would be no process by which manufacturers could even identify these kinds of issues and then rectify them,” Ms Hoorweg told CarExpert.

    “We’re really talking at the higher end of safety, and I want to be clear about that. 

    “That’s well beyond what even consumer law provides in Australia, I think it’s a great example of how ANCAP sets a really high bar for safety and manufacturers are looking to achieve that standard. They recognise that consumers demand that standard.

    “… That’s exactly what we’re here to do.”

    “This rectification action for all vehicles already in the market would not have come without the pressure applied through ANCAP protocols,” she added.

    Private and fleet owners should be aware that if their vehicle was built prior to August 2021 it’s not five-star rated until the “rectification action” is complete.

    ANCAP says it will be monitoring progress of the service campaign. The consequences of GWM not following through quickly enough would be removal of the rating, presumably.

    “Those who have already purchased a vehicle built prior to August 2021 should return their vehicle to their local dealership and have the no-cost rectification action completed in order for that individual vehicle to meet the 5 star standards and ensure they have the safest vehicle available,” Ms Hoorweg said.

    The safety performance of the new GWM Ute is a marked improvement on its two-star predecessor, the GWM Steed, rated by ANCAP in 2016.

    MORE: Australia becomes top export market for GWM Haval
    MORE: ANCAP ratings – everything you need to know

    Mike Costello
    Mike Costello is a Senior Contributor at CarExpert.
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