Over the last decade, we’ve witnessed major advances in motor vehicle technology, particularly with regard to active safety systems designed to help avoid a collision, or at least reduce the severity of it.
But as the latest European crash test results for the Fiat Punto reveal, passive safety – the parts of the car designed to protect us when a crash is unavoidable – has come a long way, too.
The European New Car Assessment Program (EuroNCAP) recently released crash test results for the 2017 version of the Punto, a popular small hatchback that scored zero stars (that is, none) in the organization’s crash test rating system.
Like the U.S.-based National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), EuroNCAP rates vehicle safety on a five-star scale: Five stars indicates a vehicle whose crash safety is as good as it gets in that class, while one star means the car offers “marginal” crash protection.
To be fair, the Punto was last redesigned in 2005, so the one that’s on sale now (and that EuroNCAP tested) is basically more than a decade old. Couple that with the evolution of that organization’s safety testing regime – which is more strict than it was in 2005 – and you have a recipe for a poor result for a car that, when it was new, earned a five-star rating.
Watch the video of the Punto’s performance in frontal and side impact tests; to the untrained eye, it looks like the car does a decent job, its structure keeping the passenger compartment largely intact.
What conspired against the Punto was its lack of airbags beyond those to protect driver and front passenger in a head-on crash, as well as any kind of active safety assists that might help mitigate the severity of a crash in the real world.
There are only two cars that have earned fewer than three stars under EuroNCAP’s current crash test, and the other is the Ford Mustang, which earned two stars largely on the basis of poor protection for child occupants and a lack of safety assist features.
As a measure of how well automakers have adapted to stricter crash safety requirements, fewer than 20 cars on sale in Europe right now now score fewer than four stars.
But passengers in a Punto or Mustang would certainly fare better than those in a car like the Tata Nano, a true zero-star car whose crash test you can see here.
(via New York Daily News)