Volkswagen and SEAT have issued a warning to its customers “not to use rear seats” in at least three different cars due to safety fears that the seat belts will unbuckle.

The VW Polo, SEAT Arona and SEAT Ibiza are all thought to be affected by an issue which causes the seat belt in one of the rear passenger seats to unbuckle on its own.

Independent testing has found a fault in the way the rear seat belt buckles were designed meaning they could fly open when changing lanes at high-speed.

According to an investigation by Finnish motoring magazine, Tekniikan Maailma, the left rear buckle in the latest version of all three models came undone when the car was carrying five people.

They allegedly found that the problem occurred when the driver made a high-speed lane change to the left.

As the middle buckle is mounted slightly higher than the rear left, the sharp lane change forced it to push down on the buckle next to it, unbuckling the rear left passenger.

Tekniikan Maailma said in a statement, “According to our judgement, the unlatching is caused by a design fault.

“The reason for unlatching is a combination of buckle layout and too sensitive release buttons in the buckles.

“The easiest fix for the problem would be either to shorten or lengthen the attaching belt of the middle buckle by a couple of centimetres.”

Volkswagen has now warned passengers not to use the rear middle seat until they are able to recall the affected cars.

The fault is a major blow to the Polo model, which has been tipped as the safest supermini on sale in 2018 following excellent Euro NCAP crash test scores.

VW’s spokesman told Autocar, “As an immediate action, we will inform customers and advise not to have passengers use the middle rear seat of current Polo models until the cars have been equipped with the redesigned belt lock fixture.”

SEAT’s director of Communications, Christian Stein, said, “Based on the analysis made at our factory we have identified the seat belt issue that Tekniikan Maailma has found in the tests.

“We are working on possible solutions for it and we will inform you about the final decision as soon as possible.”

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