SAIC’s MG GS SUV becomes the first Chinese vehicle to earn the maximum five stars from the Australasian New Car Assessment Program.

ANCAP CEO James Goodwin says the midsize SUV increased its safety rating from four to five stars after a specification upgrade and strong performance in the pole test.

“We initially assessed this model earlier this year and saw that while structurally it offered sound levels of occupant protection, its safety specification did not meet what now is expected as a minimum for a five-star car,” Goodwin says in a statement.

“This achievement raises the bar for other similar brands entering the very competitive Australian new-vehicle fleet.”

The vehicle-safety-assessment agency’s five-star rating applies to all MG GS models built from August and on sale from October.

The MG GS is produced by the former Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., a Chinese state-owned automotive design and manufacturing company headquartered in Shanghai, and a longtime partner of General Motors.

SAIC also has a joint venture with Volkswagen.

In 2005 SAIC attempted to acquire MG, the historic British car marque, but was outbid by another Chinese automaker, Nanjing Automobile. SAIC subsequently purchased Nanjing and now owns MG.

ANCAP also awarded a five-star rating to the Kia Rio, which entered the Australasian market in January, and higher-specified variants of the Suzuki Swift, on sale since June.

“There is healthy competition within the light-car segment, and the five-star rating for all variants of the Rio adds to this,” Goodwin says.

The Swift GL Navigator, GL Navigator with Safety Pack and the GLX Turbo all received the top rating, but the base model Swift GL fell short with a four-star rating.

“The Swift is an affordable car and we would encourage consumers to opt for one of the higher-specified models to ensure they’re getting the best safety package,” Goodwin says.

Australasia comprises Australia, New Zealand and Melanesia.