German Crash Tests, Part 2
What happens when a Audi Q7 (the SUV that looks like it eats subcompacts for breakfast) crashes with a minuscule Fiat 500? The result is predictable (Audi vs Fiat 10:0), but the reasons are somewhat surprising. German auto club ADAC has been testing the so-called crash-compatibility of cars for 15 years. The Fiat 500 is an up-to-date car, with five Euro-NCAP stars and even equipped with knee airbags. In this 50 percent-offset test, conducted at around 40 mph (56 km/ h, but equivalent to 80km/h for the lower-mass Fiat), the Fiat fares much worse than it would if it just hit a wall. This is because the Audi's longitudinal beam misses the Fiat's frame and bores right into the smaller car's footwell. Subsequently, the Fiat's frame collapses and the driver's overtaxed airbag ruptures. For the Fiat's occupants, such a crash would likely be fatal, while the Audi's passengers would suffer not much more than some bruises. ADAC's Rolf Ambos says this result is quite unnecessary: with cross members and longitudinal beams in similar heights, damage would be much lower. "We at ADAC call for regulations that require larger cars to have energy-absorbing beams on several levels. Most heavy sedans already take compatibility into consideration; SUVs should too." Yet another nail in the SUVs coffin?
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