The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently subjected 11 city cars to its small overlap front crash test, and according to the organization, only one model passed, "making these tiny vehicles the worst-performing group of any evaluated so far."
The small overlap front crash test replicates what happens "when the front corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object such as a tree or a utility pole," with 25% of the vehicle's front end, specifically the driver's side, striking a rigid barrier at 65kph. Of the 11 vehicles tested, only the Chevrolet Spark achieved an "Acceptable" rating as well as "Good" ratings in four other crash tests, earning for it the 2014 Top Safety Pick award. The Mazda 2 missed out on the overall "Acceptable" rating following the lower leg and foot injuries sustained by the crash test dummies.
"Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage," said IIHS senior vice president for vehicle research Joe Nolan. "That's why it's even more important to choose one with the best occupant protection. Unfortunately, as a group, minicars aren't performing as well as other vehicle categories in the small overlap crash."
Of the 11 vehicles tested, IIHS named the Honda Fit (Jazz in our market) and the Fiat 500 as the worst performers. For both vehicles, the organization cited intruding structure that seriously compromised the driver's space, while the steering column was pushed back toward the driver.
However, the IIHS is warning consumers that, while the Spark topped its category in the crash test, it still weighs less than 2,500lb (1,134kg) and doesn't protect as well as a larger and heavier vehicle with a comparable rating. Also, neither one of the city cars in the test group offers front crash prevention, a feature that, for 2014 onward, must be available in vehicles "to qualify for the highest safety award from IIHS," which is the Top Safety Pick+ award.
Check out how the small cars performed in the crash test.
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