Only one of eleven minicars tested for their performance in a small overlap front end crash test achieved an acceptable rating from the the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). This result makes this category the worst performing group so far.
A “small overlap front crash” test simulates a collision involving the front corner of the vehicle such as would happen when the car collides with another vehicle when slightly crossing the centerline or when a vehicle strikes a stationary object such as a tree or post. The test was begun in 2012 to account for these typical types of collisions. In the small overlap test, only 25% of the vehicle’s front end on the driver’s side is impacted by a rigid barrier at 40 mph. Because only a portion of the vehicles front end is impacted, the ability of the vehicle to manage the crash energy is compromised, often causing the occupant compartment to collapse. When this structure does not hold up, injury or death risk is high. Collapse of the occupant compartment can have the effect of throwing airbags deployments and seats out of line, effectively diminishing the effectiveness of other safety features as a result.
The Chevrolet Spark offered the best protection among the minicar group. However, even the best performing minicar will not protect as well as larger and heavier vehicles. In addition, none of the minicars offered front crash prevention, which is becoming an increasingly common feature and is require in 2014 for a vehicle to achieve a IIHS “Top Safety Pick.”