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-   -   [VIDEO] Small v. Big Cars and Safety (

SVOboy 03-08-2008 12:09 PM

[VIDEO] Small v. Big Cars and Safety
Found this on ABG, and this is one of the better things I have seen there in a while (link):


One of the arguments frequently made during debates over raising fuel economy standards is that it will force people to drive smaller, less safe cars. The theory is that in a collision between a larger heavier vehicle and a smaller lighter one the heavy one will always come off better. Reality is, as usual, far removed from theory. All modern vehicles are built to withstand the same standard collisions and modern small cars protect their occupants as well as larger vehicles and generally much better than an older larger vehicle. The team from the UK car show Fifth Gear decided to conduct a crash test between an early '90s Volvo 940 Wagon and a three-year-old Renault Modus.

The Modus is B-Class car and was the first such car to get a 5-star rating in the EuroNCAP tests. Volvos, on the other hand, have a long standing and largely deserved reputation for safety. While modern small cars may indeed sustain a substantial amount of damage in a crash as they dissipate the energy, they tend to do a very good job of protecting occupants. One other thing to keep in mind in such mixed crashes is that while the larger vehicle may have more momentum, the lighter car can also be shoved out of the way to some degree, also dissipating energy. Fifth Gear did a 40mph frontal offset test with the Renault and Volvo (that's an 80mph closing speed) and you can check out the video after the jump. There's also a video of a Smart ForTwo doing a similar crash with a Mercedes E-Class, with similar results. Don't be afraid to think small, it probably won't kill you.

Daox 03-08-2008 12:40 PM

Very interesting. I was shown the smart car video at the Milwaukee Auto Show at the Smart exhibit. It was pretty amazing. The windshield didnt even break!

The Modus versus Volvo was great too. I honestly wasn't sure which one would come out ahead.

NoCO2 03-08-2008 01:28 PM

Very interesting videos thanks for posting them both!

I was not very surprised at the SMART video because I have heard and seen it's reviews for safety and it's one of the big selling points for me (and the FE is nice too).

The first video really surprised me though. I wasn't sure which was actually going to win but I had a feeling the Renault was going to pull out ahead simply because the technology was far superior. I think that the reason why people still believe that larger car = more safety is because, in the past, that was probably true. Now, however, we have more then just one mass vs. another mass in an accident. There are airbags, pre-crash preparations that are made milliseconds before a crash should the car's computer notice heavy braking or other abnormal driving situations. All of these technologies combined with smarter thinking have allowed smaller, lighter cars to be just as safe as the bigger, heavier ones of the past.

Now...what I really want to see is an American version of that test and put something like a SMART fourtwo up against something it might hit here on US highways....A hummer!

DifferentPointofView 03-08-2008 01:53 PM

I'd like to see like a hummer h2, a Sequoia, an expedition, escalade, or other Large SUV's hit a smart fourtwo, or something similar. Very curious about the results, I've always questioned an SUV's safety. I mean a NEW suv's safety. One that uses technology from the same fleet that the smaller cars use. One crash test I wanna see is my moms caliber up against something very large. They're supposed to have 5 star crash ratings all around and standard side-curtain airbags and such, and I'd like to see one in action since I ride around in it a lot. I'd also like to see what mine would do... probably worse because from the crashes Ive seen the ZJ just doesn't crush and absorb much, it mostly folds in at the firewall, causing a bent look to it.

Daox 03-08-2008 05:32 PM

I totally agree DPoV. I don't know anyone who bought a sub-compact that was worried about hitting another sub-compact. Everyones worried about being run over by a semi or other massive truck/SUV.

tjts1 03-08-2008 05:50 PM

A few caveats about the Volvo 940 vs Renault Modus videos.
The US market 940 used additional bracing in the lower frame, doors, collapsable shocks in the bumpers and dual airbags, none of which was standard equipment on the European market car.
The Modus while much smaller and more fuel efficient than the Volvo is within 10% of the weight of the volvo. Its a very heavy car for its size. Theres about 20 years of design and development between the the 2 cars. In a crash I would choose the Renault over the Volvo any day. But if both cars were from the same era (S60 or S80), I would take the bigger Volvo any day.

LostCause 03-08-2008 06:15 PM


Originally Posted by Daox (Post 13354)
I totally agree DPoV. I don't know anyone who bought a sub-compact that was worried about hitting another sub-compact. Everyones worried about being run over by a semi or other massive truck/SUV.

I think that is a legitimate worry. You would think they would outlaw massive SUV's simply because they are a blatant danger to the average automobile. If I drove around with massive steel spikes sticking out of the front and back of my car, waiting to impale any "idiot" that ran into me, I'm sure that would be illegal...but if I disguise a lead brick as an SUV that would be perfectly fine.

They should probably create a different licensing system for vehicles over a certain gross weight. I mean, you need to be speially licensed to drive a semi because they are dangerous. Lets require large SUV drivers to get a license that is much tougher to acquire than a traditional license. Hell, lets make getting a license tougher altogether. This pass once and your free system seems a little too relaxed.

This is an aside, but I always notice that the most reckless drivers on the freeway are company car, fullsize trucks. I suppose gas, insurance, and the car are cheap because they are a business expense. It seems controlling the wallet is the easiest way to encourage good driving. Go high gas prices! if only I wasn't so broke...:)

tjts1 03-08-2008 07:06 PM


Originally Posted by LostCause (Post 13360)
They should probably create a different licensing system for vehicles over a certain gross weight.

Set a 55mph speed limit for all vehicles above 4000lb. That'll discourage all lot of the discretionary SUV purchases.

igo 03-08-2008 09:49 PM

That is some amazing strength from the smart. I am still awaiting the smart vs. h2 crash test. If a smart will sand up to an h2 crash I think the American public would more readily accept it. Many people think the smart is not safe due to its small size, but that is totaly false.

Daox 03-08-2008 11:08 PM

If you search youtube you can find a video clip of a Smart hitting a cement barrier head on. It holds up pretty well.

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