A survey in Britain has found that four Land Rover models offer poor or only marginal protection from whiplash injuries. However, the manufacturer has strongly defended its products.

A survey in Britain has found that certain Land Rover models offer poor or only marginal protection from whiplash injuries. However, the manufacturer has strongly defended its products.

According to a report on , Land Rover Freelanders and a Defender ranked amongst the 18 worst offenders “as nearly a quarter of all vehicle seats were still offering poor or only marginal protection from whiplash injuries”.

The survey was conducted by Thatcham, a motor insurance repair research centre, and it found six per cent of the nearly 400 popular models tested offered poor protection, while 17 per cent offered marginal protection from whiplash.

“Many motor manufacturers are now listening to our advice but some are not and are still producing unsafe seats,” said Thatcham crash laboratory manager Matthew Avery.

Thatcham issued warnings to manufacturers last year about the dangers. The company said yesterday that the improvement in seat design meant there was likely to be a 40 per cent decrease in whiplash injuries.

In response, a UK-based Land Rover spokesman said: “Land Rover welcomes any survey that will help buyers make a more informed purchase decision, and on the whole is satisfied with the performance of its products in the New Car Head Restraint Ratings 2003.

However, he pointed out that the British department of transport had released recent data following 150 recorded collisions, in which the Defender and Discovery were named as the two safest vehicles.

“Land Rover's aim is to design cars that offer high levels of protection over a wide range of real crash conditions on and offroad and the company continues to take an active lead in industry discussions with Euro-NCAP to improve the technical validity of the programme.

“Land Rover has a policy of continuous improvement and this applies to safety as much as it does to other vehicle attributes," he added.

Among the 18 models receiving a poor rating in the Thatcham report were:

Alfa Romeo 156 3,2 GTA

Audi A6 1,9 TDI

Daewoo Matiz SE+ (sold as the Chevrolet Spark in South Africa)

Fiat Seicento 1,1 Sporting

Land Rover Freelander 2,0 TD ES three-door

Land Rover Freelander 2,0 TD ES five-door

Land Rover Freelander 1,8 Serengeti

Land Rover Defender 2,5 TD

Volkswagen Passat 1,9 TD S

Volkswagen Passat 2,8 V6 4 Motion

Volkswagen Passat 1,9 TD SE