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Rigorous new US crash test trialled
A new, more demanding frontal impact crash test is being trialled in America by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety – with many well-known vehicles struggling to receive a good rating.
The safety research group is pioneering a tougher version of the offset frontal impact examination called the small-overlap frontal crash test.
The latest experiment has been devised to place more structural stress on a car’s chassis and to expose more weaknesses that can contribute to occupant injuries in real-world crashes.
The test effectively simulates a heavily offset head-on collision typical of those impacts often seen on A and B roads in the UK.
Of the 11 mid-size vehicles the IIHS tested, just two models received the top rating of ‘good’ – the Volvo S60 and Acura TL.
The S60 was noted for the similar performance of its safety cage in the small-overlap experiment to that observed in a conventional head-on crash.
The new test mainly affects a car’s outer edges – areas that aren’t well protected by crumple zones, meaning energy is dissipated less, forces are much greater and resultant injuries often more serious.
Infinitis G series range recorded an ‘acceptable’ performance, while the American model Acura TSX and Lincoln MKZ, as well as the BMW 3 Series and the Volkswagen CC were rated as ‘marginal’ performers.
The Audi, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz premium marques recorded inadequate scores, achieving a ‘poor’ rating with their A4, IS and ES and C-Class models respectively. All vehicles tested were 2012 iterations of the cars.
The small-overlap test sees 25% of the car’s front end on the driver’s side launched into a five-foot tall rigid barrier at 40mph.
Although many new European cars are already subjected to this type of crash test, it is often conducted in-house with the results remaining unpublished to the public.
In a 2009 study of vehicles rated as ‘good’ in standard head-on 35mph frontal crash tests the IIHS said it found small-overlap crashes accounted for nearly 25% of the frontal crashes causing serious or fatal injury to front seat passengers.
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