Among the many small changes made on January 1st for all MINI production are the new standard advanced airbags. This is a addition that hasn’t really been talked about before just recently so not much was know about the feature. It’s listed in the article we previously linked to by Sean Bartnik however, knowing that many readers might have missed it, I wanted to feature it within its own post. Here’s an excerpt of Sean’s description:

These airbags have weight sensors in the front seats and use the weight of the seat occupant to determine airbag deployment speed and force. This is why the sport seats are of a slightly different design on the bottom cushion for ’05 models — the scalloped portion at the front of the bottom cushion exists no more and the cushion shape is a little flatter for ’05.

If a passenger of insufficient weight sits in the front passenger seat and buckles the seatbelt, the sensor will detect the low weight and turn off the passenger side airbag. MINI has added a warning light on the ceiling in the same unit as the new ’05 map lights and waterfall lighting. It says PASSENGER AIRBAG on it and if the airbag is deactivated, a green light in the center lights up the word OFF.

I was worried that the light would be obtrusive, but it’s not. It turns out that the light will only come on if there is insufficient weight in the passenger seat AND the seatbelt is buckled. So if you are driving with no one else in the car, the warning light will not be on, unless you have a habit of buckling the front passenger seatbelt even when no one is in the seat.

The advanced airbags are a nice upgrade in the car’s safety equipment, especially for children or smaller people who ride in the front seats. With the new airbags, the sunvisor airbag warning decals have changed slightly but still offer the same general message as before, which is that the back seat is still the safest place for children.

There is still no way to manually deactivate the passenger airbag.

[ PHOTOS: Cooper S Auto/Other Jan. 2005 Goodies ]

BTW – does anyone else see the face in the picture above?