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.