The Toyota Avensis has been rated the safest car ever tested by Euro NCAP examiners after it received a score of 34 points and a five-star rating. But Renault, whose Laguna achieved five stars and 33 points in 2001, is unhappy with this development.

The Toyota Avensis has been rated the safest car ever tested by Euro NCAP examiners after it received a score of 34 points and a five-star rating. But Renault, whose Laguna achieved five stars and 33 points in 2001, is unhappy with this development.

According to a spokesman for Renault said: "When the Laguna achieved its rating in November 2001, no marks were awarded if a car had a seatbelt warning device, whereas now it's worth one point in the current tests.

“Therefore, we are considering asking Euro NCAP to give the Laguna this point retrospectively - which will mean it has the same total as the Avensis," he added.

This is not the first time that the Euro NCAP points allocation system has come under scrutiny. Earlier this year, the Mercedes C-Class was controversially upped from four stars to five by NCAP because it had the aforementioned seat-belt warning system.

Toyota's new family model scored highly for safety thanks to its “rigid body structure and the ability of the materials in its cabin to disperse energy and resist deformation” in the event of an accident, a Euro NCAP spokesman said.

A large range of safety devices, including a total of nine airbags, braking aids plus stability and traction control, also helped boost the Japanese car's score.

“The results for the Avensis are particularly impressive because they are the first to be published in accordance with an updated and more demanding Euro NCAP crash test protocol,” FIA president and Euro NCAP Chairman Max Mosley said.

“As of January 1, 2003, Euro NCAP adopted a new deformable barrier face in the side impact, and the use of an improved side impact dummy. The latest generation side impact dummy, ES-2, incorporates changes to the rib mechanism, spine backplate and pelvis which improves the sensitivity of the dummy, enabling a better recording of the forces acting on it in a crash and the injuries that an occupant might sustain,” he added.

CARtoday.com reported on Tuesday that the Citroën C8 had became the first MPV to be awarded a full five stars for its crash test performance. Its PSA sibling, the Peugeot 807, and the Fiat Ulysse, which shares the same architecture as the Citroën and Peugeot, also received the maximum Euro NCAP rating.

Earlier this year, the Saab 9-3, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Renault Vel Satis and Renault Mégane II received the maximum rating. The Mégane was the first small family car to receive a top score. With the Vel Satis executive saloon, Renault became the first manufacturer to obtain five-star Euro NCAP ratings on three of its models.