Second class lives: a Peugeot 208 is not the same in Europe and in Latin America

Resorting to brands has a comfort appeal. If you like to eat at McDonald’s, you know you’ll get the same fries anywhere in the world (theoretically). If you like to drink Coca-Cola, you’ll know it tastes the same in any country (theoretically). Even if there are differences, they tend to be small. The same should apply to cars and its brands, but this is not how it works. If a Peugeot 208 saved your life in Europe, there is a great chance you’ll get hurt or even killed driving the exact same car in Latin America in case you crash it. At least this is what the latest Latin NCAP tests have presented.

This is the video of the test of a 208 in Euro NCAP, made in 2012. The front impact is performed at 64 km/h and the side impact at 50 km/h. The same speeds used by the Latin NCAP tests.

This is the test Latin NCAP has released last week on a Peugeot 208. Its performance should be the same. Even superior, since Latin NCAP tests are not so severe nor so many as Euro NCAP tests. Check the video.

In case you cannot perceive any differences in the videos, here are the results from Euro NCAP for the 208.


It is a 5 star vehicle, with front, side and curtain airbags, in a total of 6 of them. It has ESP (stability control), ABS, Isofix, front seatbelt pretensioners, front seatbelt load limiters and seatbelt warning for both the driver and front passenger. The model tested is a turbodiesel. The equivalent to the Latin American model would be the 208 Active with a 1.2 Puretech petrol engine. It costs € 16,200, or the equivalent to R$ 62,590.

Now check the Latin American 208 marks below. Even if you do not speak Portuguese, you will understand the scores.


Produced in Brazil, the 208 is a 2 star vehicle. It has front airbags, in a total of 2, and ABS due to law requirements. But no front seatbelts pretensioners, no Isofix, no ESP. It costs R$ 48.990, or the equivalent to € 12,675. It is much cheaper than the European model, what would explain the lesser-star score, but not the damages. Check the dummies on the European 208 results and on the Latin American 208 test conclusions. The worst result for the European Peugeot is a marginal chest protection on the pole crash test, which is not performed by Latin NCAP. The worst for the Latin American vehicle are weak protections for head and chest in a lateral collision. Apart from 5 marginal results. And why is that so?

According to Latin NCAP, Peugeot has eliminated the side collision protection from the doors of the 208. They refer to the anti-intrusion bar, or side impact bars, as they are also called. Peugeot confirms the Brazilian-made 208 has never used side impact bars, but that “its cars comply totally with all safety regulations” and that “it gives customers the option of a wide list of safety, including 6 airbags and ESP in different versions of the 208 for the Brazilian customer”. In other words, blame it on the government. And you only don’t have a car with 6 airbags and ESP because you do not want to. As for the side impact bar, you simply will not get them in a Latin American 208. Even if you could afford them.


Cost could be deemed as a problem, but Consumers International claims making cars safer would add only US$ 200 to the price of the vehicles. That would include strengthening the car body and including front airbags to the car, both for the driver and the passenger. With only that, all cars could pass the UN Safety regulations. And this is exactly what an unbelievable amount of models for sale today in the world cannot comply with.

Consumers International has also carried on an amazing action: showing zero and one star car owners the crash tests of their vehicles. Like Mildred Dimayuga Mosso, who drives a 2011 Nissan Tiida. And Marcela Salazar, owner of a 2009 Chevrolet Aveo. And Ascensión Garrido Campos, who bought a 2014 Chevrolet Matiz. And Heriberto Mendoza, who drives a 2015 Chevrolet Spark. And Israel Torres Jiménez, who owns a Nissan Tsuru. And Gabriel Sánchez Calderón, who owns Tsuru, Aveo and Tiida models. Check the video with all of them and their reactions to the crash test videos of their vehicles (you can also see each of their videos by clicking on their names).

The title of the video is the same question we have made in January 2016, with our article “Safety, money and standards: what leads to second class lives“. Or in May, with the test results of the Renault Kwid. You can check the list of cars involved in these problems.


It is huge and puts a lot of carmakers as “unsafety dealers”: Peugeot, Nissan, Chevrolet, Renault (in India), Chery, Fiat, Ford, Geely, Hyundai, JAC, Lifan, Suzuki and Volkswagen. Consumers International says GM alone has sold 725,787 zero and one-star cars from 2012 until 2015 in Latin America. In the same time frame, Fiat sold 1.3 million; Volkswagen, 941,311; Nissan,  339,494; Ford, 130,964; Hyundai, 13,073; Suzuki, 6,659. The sum is around 3.5 million cars that do not protect their occupants as they should. Check the image below.


In 2015 alone, 74,029 people died in traffic in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Peru. Most of them in Brazil, by a large margin. Doesn’t it seem obvious that this has at least some connection with the number of low safety cars sold in these countries?

Consumers International has released a very interesting report called “Safer Cars for Latin America“. All the tables above has been taken from it, but the Renault Kwid case shows that should be a worldwide demand. Or would you like to run the risk of buying a Big Mac that gave you a gastro-intestinal infection? Or a Coca-Cola that threw you in a hospital bed with typhoid fever? Toxic Fischer Price toys for your kids? It is more or less the same thing, only that cars can cause much worse damages. Check our list of the safest cars in the world and beg that they are the same ones sold in the USA or in Europe. Do not accept to be treated as a second class client, with a second class life. You are not disposable.

Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.

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