A new Volvo scoring a five-star result in Euro NCAP's crash tests might not seem a huge surprise, but the new V40 hatchback has raised the bar even higher by setting a new record safety score for in the assessment.
The V40 scored 98% for adult protection, with particular praise given to its strong main structure, driver assistance systems, and attention to pedestrian safety, thanks to an innovative bonnet airbag. It's an impressive result for such a compact car.
How did the 2012 Volvo V40 protect its occupants so well?
Despite its family hatch dimensions, Volvo wanted to instil big-car safety into the V40. The main body structure uses five different strength grades of steel, tactically deployed to keep the V40 stiff and strong around the occupants but let it crumple and deform to release energy in an impact. There's also a plethora of interior airbags, plus the usual preventative measures to avoid the accident in the first place.
An auto-brake system will halt the car in city driving should the driver not react in time, and there's a blind spot monitor and lane-keeping system to ease the pain of changing lanes on busy motorways. We've seen these innovations on mainstream cars beforehand, but what is new is the attention to detail lavished on unfortunate pedestrians.
So the Volvo V40's even safe for those who aren't inside it?
That's right. We've seen pop-up bonnets before, which rise to give more crumple space above the engine for hapless jay-walkers. But the V40 takes this one step further by introducing a pedestrian airbag as standard across the range.
The U-shaped cushion inflates around the top edge of the bonnet and A-pillars, protecting a pedestrian's head from hard contact with the car's structure, but still allowing the driver to see out of the windscreen. Volvo's V40 is the first car to score a maximum points rating in the pedestrian section of Euro NCAP's test.
Volvo is aiming to make its cars foolproof within the next eight years. The target? That no occupant of a Volvo car will be killed or even seriously injured in an accident by the year 2020.
>> Can Volvo really create a death-proof car? And would its safety influence your own buying decisions? Tell us in the comments below