The big change will be of great significance to supermini buyers, where stability control has previously been up to a £400 option-fit.
It may lead manufacturers to raise the prices of the UK’s most price-conscious cars.
The move is to improve the test’s credentials, given that so many new models achieve 5 star crash impact scores. By boarding its focus to ‘active’ safety, the safety body feels it better reflects a vehicle’s overall safety.
Hyundai is one maker that has already reacted to the change. It has decided to fit ESP as standard to all i20s built from April. This will add £100 to the transaction price – but should ensure a 5 star crash score when the model is tested in 2010.
The first vehicles tested under this new system will be revealed on 19 February.
By Richard Aucock