MINI Countryman the Only Small Car to Earn Good Grade from the IIHS

The Countryman is now the only car to achieve a good grade among the latest group of 12 cars subjected to the IIHS small overlap front crash test.

The test is more difficult than either the head-on crashes conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or the IIHS moderate overlap test. In the small overlap test, the main structures of the vehicle’s front-end crush zone are bypassed, making it hard for the vehicle to manage crash energy. The occupant compartment can collapse as a result.

Read on for the full details and to see it all go down on video.

“The Mini Cooper Countryman gave a solid performance,” says Joe Nolan, the Institute’s senior vice president for vehicle research. “The Countryman’s safety cage held up reasonably well. The safety belts and airbags worked together to control the test dummy’s movement, and injury measures indicate a low risk of any significant injuries in a real-world crash this severe.”

The Countryman, introduced in 2011, is a larger four-door version of the two-door Mini Cooper. The small overlap rating for the Countryman doesn’t apply to the two-door model, which hasn’t been tested.

To earn the top rating of good, automakers need to focus on overall crash protection. That means an occupant compartment that resists intrusion, safety belts that prevent a driver from pitching too far forward and side curtain airbags that provide enough forward coverage to cushion a head at risk of hitting the dashboard or window frame or things outside the vehicle. Collapsing structures can knock front airbags and seats out of position, exacerbating the problem.

Interestingly the Fiat 500L matched it’s smaller 500 sibling with the dreaded “poor” rating:

In the Fiat 500L, a four-door variant of the much smaller Fiat 500 coupe, intruding structure seriously compromised the driver’s survival space, knocking the steering wheel back and to the right of the driver. That put the front airbag out of position so the dummy’s head slid off the left side and hit the A-pillar. Although sensors in the head indicate the impact wasn’t severe, contact with hard surfaces shouldn’t occur. In addition, injury measures taken from the dummy indicate serious injury to the driver’s left hip would be likely, and injuries to both lower legs would be possible in a real-world crash of this severity. The Fiat 500L (and 500) earns a poor rating for small overlap front crash protection.

Among other cars that received the poor rating were the Nissan Juke, Nissan Leaf and Mazda 5.

  • fishbert

    While the Countryman had the only Overall ranking of “Good”, the Chevy Volt was their “Top Safety Pick+” award winner. The differentiating factor was the Volt’s optional forward crash warning system.

    Something else I found interesting in the report: “When testing hybrid or electric models, IIHS follows special safety protocols. Post crash, technicians check for high voltage and high temperature, which could lead to a potentially fatal electrical shock and/or fire. No one can touch the car until given the all-clear. Technicians wear safety gear, including eye protection, rubber boots and rubber gloves. They’re tethered at the waist to a long pole, which can be used to pull them away from the vehicle in an emergency.”

    That last sentence is a doozy!

    • robble

      Yet the warning system didn’t help that crash test dummy =P

  • MINIontheMIND
  • t

    Well, glad I dumped MINI due to the F56 for a Mazda 3. It’s the only small car out of the 32 tested so far that got the best rating and top safety pick+. Love it! Although, I do miss my R56 :*( I will possibly come back when the re-design the Countryman…

    • CarCrazed

      Seriously? Did you read the article? Mazda failed, MINI won! I guarantee the F56 will have top safety scores as well! Congrats to MINI!

      • The Mazda 3 sedan also received “Good” across the board like the Countryman. The R56 was all “Good” except for an “Acceptable” roof test and has never been tested for small overlap. The F56 MINI hasn’t been fully tested yet in the US.

      • t

        Um. Maybe YOU should read the article. The Mazda 5 failed. The Mazda 3 and 6 got great ratings, and like I said before, the Mazda 3 has the best rating out of all 32 small cars tested so far. Maybe do your research first…

        • CarCrazed

          I was referring to the Mazda 5, don’t get so testy, I read the article and don’t care about the 3 or 6, thanks for sharing though!

        • Karl

          Since you dumped MINI for your Mazda, why not go over to the Mazda fanboy site and gush about your good fortunes over there? Just got back from a couple of days with MTTS 2014, and I’m definitely getting the new F56 JCW next year. The new models look great, and the MINI community is a blast. Let me know when Mazda’s take the states.

        • Dr Obnxs

          No one needs comments like this. Many of us are car enthusiasts that like MINIs as opposed to people who only want positive spin for a particular brand.

          Don’t dump so much hate on Mazda. They do more than practically any marque to get real people racing. Where can you find a world class racetrack sponsored by MINI like Mazda does at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca? There is more than enough room for both brands. So let’s all stay a bit more positive.

          And yes, the Mini community is a blast. Made up of many. Some of whom like the latest whatever, and some of whom don’t. I have two MINIs, does the latest add of a Fiat 500e and liking some of that car is some ways more than my MINIs make me a traitor? Or just a MINI owner who has wider needs or likes than MINI offers.

          Sorry for you getting this particular blast, but the tone here at MF is starting to decay into the standard internet pissing contests that tend to poison all good things on the net.

        • Karl

          Not sure where you read all the Mazda hate I dumped on this individual, but my point is the new MINI is actually a really great car. We saw plenty at the MTTS 2014 events in Austin and Dallas and I’m definitely getting the next JCW. The tone here has gotten cruddy because of all the hate on the new car from many people that I truly believe haven’t seen it. So, to conclude, I really think you are completely off base when it comes to my post. I’m tired of folks that want to get a Jetta, GTI, Mazda, etc. coming over here and bashing the new MINI with absolutely no in person experience with the car. Just thought I’d suggest that they can go on over to the other sites and get involved with the love fest over there.