Some of Britain’s top-selling cars may have faulty and potentially lethal seatbelts, the Volkswagen Group has admitted.
The rear-left seatbelt in Volkswagen Polos as well as two Seat brands, has a potentially dangerous fault, tests carried out by a Finnish car magazine found.
Independent tests by the magazine, which were later confirmed by the manufacturer, found that when the cars are driven at speed and all three seat belts are in use, the rear left seatbelt can unfasten unexpectedly leaving the occupant unsecured.
The fault affects the latest model of VW Polos, which last year were the 7th best-selling car in the UK, as well as the Seat Ibiza and Seat Arona.
The VW Group, which owns all the brands, said it was aware of the fault and advised owners not to use the middle seatbelt until a solution to the problem is found and a recall can be carried out.
The magazine Tekniikan Maailma found the problem occurred when the car was carrying five people and the driver made a high-speed lane change to the left.
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The tests found that when the body of the middle seat passenger shifted as the car turned a corner, it forced the higher-mounted buckle for the central seatbelt against the lower buckle for the outer left-hand side belt, pushing the release button of the latter.
Tekniikan Maailma said this happened on numerous occasions in each identified model and that the “unlatching is caused by a design fault”.
A spokesperson from the Volkswagen Group in Wolfsburg, Germany said: “Based on the analysis made at our factory we have identified the seat belt issue that Tekniikan Maailma has found in the tests.
“At Volkswagen, safety remains a main priority and we immediately reacted to solve the issue. As a consequence, a feasible technical solution has been identified.
“Volkswagen is now waiting for the concerned authorities’ final validation in order to implement it, both on the customers’ cars and on the future series production.”
The issue emerged just a day BMW recalled more than 300,000 cars in the UK because of an electrical fault that has caused some vehicles to cut out which was revealed by a BBC Watchdog Live investigation.