Many small cars performed poorly in the most recent crash tests, with only one of the 12 tested cars receiving a “good” rating, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports.
The four-door MINI Cooper Countryman was the only small car that secured the “good” rating. Five cars were deemed “average,” two cars “marginal” and four cars attained a “poor” rating.
According to Joe Nolan, a senior vice president for the IIHS, the Countryman gave a solid performance. The safety cage held up reasonably well, and the safety belts and airbags worked together to control the test dummy’s movement. Injury measures indicated a low risk of any significant injuries in a real-world crash this severe.
The tests were performed on a course that examines how well vehicles handle a 65-kph collision, in which there is a 25-per cent frontal overlap with a five-foot-tall rigid barrier on the driver’s side. This test, known as the small overlap front crash test, has been in use since 2012 and represents 25 per cent of all real-world crashes.
Of the small cars, electric vehicles were also tested. They face a unique challenge in safety testing due to their heavy batteries, said the IIHS.
The lithium ion electric batteries of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid and Nissan LEAF electric vehicle survived the test with no reported problems. Although the Leaf still received a “poor” rating in the test after suffering significant damage that puts drivers at risk for left knee, thigh and lower leg injuries.
The regular Chevrolet Volt, meanwhile, was the only car to pick up the IIHS’s Top Safety Pick Plus overall award after this round of testing. The requirements of this award include: a “good” or “acceptable” rating in the small overlap test (the Volt received an “acceptable” rating), a “good” rating on the institute’s other four tests and advanced or superior ratings for front crash prevention. The Volt has an optional front crash-prevention system that contributed to its win.
The full test results are as follows:
Good: MINI Cooper Countryman
Average: Chevrolet Volt, Ford C-Max Hybrid, Mitsubishi Lancer, Scion FR-S, Subaru BRZ
Marginal: Hyundai Veloster, Scion xB
Poor: Nissan LEAF, Nissan Juke, Mazda5, FIAT 500L