Seatbelt safety issue identified in some Volkswagen and Seat models

New Seat Arona SUV and latest Volkswagen Polo hatchback among the cars affected, as owners are advised not to use middle seat

Words By Steve Huntingford

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Volkswagen Polo, Seat Arona and Seat Ateca

A fault that can leave a rear passenger unbuckled during a high-speed manouevre has been identified in the Seat Arona, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo – three cars which are closely related under the skin.

Finnish automotive magazine Tekniikan Maailma put the cars through a lane-change test while carrying five people, and found that the resulting movement of the person in the middle rear seat was enough to release the seatbelt of the person to their left.

According to Tekniikan Maailma, this happened on numerous occasions in each identified model, plus it says it tested two Aronas in order to confirm that the issue wasn’t isolated to a particular test car.

Volkswagen has now advised that owners of affected cars do not use the middle rear seat until a recall is issued, and says that it will provide a technical solution shortly.

Meanwhile, Seat has confirmed that it has found the same issue during new tests of the Arona and Ibiza.

Tekniikan Maailma believes that the unlatching is down to a combination of the middle buckle's position – it's mounted slightly higher than the one to its left – and the release buttons being overly sensitive.

The Volkswagen T-Roc features a similar layout but buckles made by a different company, and the belts in this worked perfectly when it was put through the same test.

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The safest new family cars in the UK

Safety standards have risen dramatically, even in the last 10 years, but crash tests conducted by the independent safety assessors at Euro NCAP show that there are still sizeable differences between the best and worst performers.

Only one car, the Nissan Leaf, has been tested under the latest, 2018 rules, but below we count down the 10 family-friendly cars that received the highest scores prior to that.

= 10. Land Rover Discovery

Total Euro NCAP score: 318

The new Land Rover Discovery is one of the best family SUVs you can buy, achieving a five-star What Car? rating as well as a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. It can genuinely seat seven adults and combines a fantastic, elevated driving position with a very comfortable ride, plus it's as capable off the road as it is on it.

Read our full Land Rover Discovery review

= 10. Subaru Levorg

Total Euro NCAP score: 318 (out of 400)

This practical, four-wheel-drive estate car earned the same Euro NCAP score as the Discovery, but it's nowhere near as impressive in other areas: it's expensive to buy, the ride is poorly controlled and the interior feels cheap.

Read our full Subaru Levorg review

9. Audi Q2

Total Euro NCAP score: 319

Adults will feel a bit cramped in the back of Audi's smallest SUV, but children will be fine and the interior is beautifully finshed. The Q2 is great fun to drive, too, and it has a slightly higher overall safety score than the larger Audi Q5.

Read our full Audi Q2 review

Next: the rest of the top 10 >

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