11 Mini Cars That Struggled Through Crash Tests

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The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s decision to implement the small overlap frontal collision test has proven troubling for automakers, since despite being one of the more common types of accidents, its also one of the hardest to protect against — or so it would seem. The test involves running the vehicle into an obstacle at about 40 miles per hour in such a way that a portion of the front end of the car (about 25 percent on the driver’s side) is impacted to simulate a partial head-on collision with a telephone pole, another car, or what have you.

The test was originally instituted in August 2012, and since then, automakers have been scrambling to fall into compliance with the new trial. One particular class of vehicle, the minicar, seems to be having more trouble than usual, though perhaps expectedly, as this class offers the least amount of room between the occupants and the front of the car.

With a rating system of Poor, Marginal, Acceptable, and Good, only one vehicle was able to pull an Acceptable rating — and that was the highest of the class. ”Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage. That’s why it’s even more important to choose one with the best occupant protection,” said Joe Nolan, the IIHS’s senior vice president for vehicle research, in a statement. “Unfortunately, as a group, minicars aren’t performing as well as other vehicle categories in the small overlap crash.”

“Looking at the component ratings that make up the overall marks, every minicar … rates marginal or poor for structure, the most fundamental element of occupant protection,” the agency’s statement reads. “When a vehicle’s structure doesn’t hold up, injury risk is high. Collapsing structures can knock frontal airbags and seats out of position, exacerbating the problem.” IIHS concluded by noting that “frontal crash test results can’t be compared across weight classes,” so the ratings seen here cannot be extrapolated to larger models.

Here are the 11 minicars that IIHS tested and how they fared in this difficult test. The following are ranked alphabetically.

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