LONDON – The Ford Mustang’s U.K. sales success has not been matched by its performance in recent safety tests.

In one of several tests conducted by the European New Car Assessment Program, the U.S.-built sports car scored just two of a possible five stars, the worst showing for a mass-market car in eight years.

Results of the frontal-offset test, the airbags of both the driver and passenger inflated insufficiently to properly restrain the occupants, Euro NCAP says.

In the full-width frontal test, a lack of rear-seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters could allow the occupant to slide under the seatbelt and risk abdominal injuries.

In the side-impact crash, the head of the 10-year-old test dummy contacted the interior trim bottoming out the curtain airbag.

Thatcham Research, which conducts crash tests on behalf of the NCAP program,

suggests the test results reflect cost savings in the European-specification Mustang’s safety equipment compared with that of its U.S. counterpart.

“We have concerns about the Ford Mustang’s crash protection of adults and children, which also makes it unsuitable for having rear passengers,” says Matthew Avery, research director at Thatcham. “On top this, it does not have basic life-saving technology like autonomous emergency braking that is available even on the Ford Fiesta and the recently launched Ford Edge.

“What really concerns me is that Ford has made a deliberate choice. The car has been designed to score well in less wide-ranging U.S. consumer safety tests and only minor updates have been made to meet required European (pedestrian-) safety regulations.”

In a statement sent to WardsAuto, Ford of Britain contends the car is a safe product in most test scenarios.

“Mustang delivered five stars for pedestrian safety, four for front occupants, three for child occupants and the two stars for active safety (also overall result). The latter is improved on next-gen Mustang available to order after September.

“Ford is committed to continued improvement in vehicle safety,” the statement continues. “And customers in Europe ordering a Mustang after September 2017 will receive an updated version equipped with pre-collision assist with pedestrian detection, forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking and lane-keeping aid.”