Haval Motor South Africa says it is “surprised” by the sub-par safety ratings handed to the GWM Steed 5 and Haval H1 by Global NCAP.

In the latest round of testing by Global NCAP and the Automobile Association, the SA-spec Steed 5 scored zero stars for adult occupant protection, while Haval's H1 settled for two stars (Renault’s Kwid was also evaluated, likewise scoring two stars).

Global NCAP rated the Steed 5 bakkie’s structure as “unstable”, saying the vehicle “demonstrated a high probability of life-threatening injury” in the crash. The H1's structure was likewise described as "unstable".

Haval Motor SA, which also runs the GWM brand on local shores, said safety was not only its “top priority” but also “part of our DNA”.

“We as a company are surprised at the results of this round of testing, which included two of the vehicles in our stable, as we proudly meet and exceed the standards as set out by the National Regulator for Compulsory [Specifications],” the Chinese firm said in a statement.

“It is regrettable that vehicles are tested that have been in production for quite some time and are fitted with basic passive and active safety aids due to them being of a lower specification in this area to obviously assist in bringing the overall price of the vehicle down, making it more accessible than vehicles with all the safety aids.

“We have thousands of happy and safe motorists using our products and that’s why we continue to invest in safety technologies of tomorrow,” the statement read.

Haval Motor SA added it was would “welcome working together with the local authorities as well as the AA to improve road safety as well as vehicle safety”.

“We also welcome the testing of our latest products to show that [our] brands create products to meet the situation, the utility, the person and, most importantly, the budget. We are proud to offer great value for money together with heaps of safety features and technology,” it said.