Not All Crash Tests Created Equal

Not All Crash Tests Created Equal

Every year, different crash test authorities across the world test different new vehicles and assign to them a star rating. Only a handful will ever get full marks, and even fewer are awarded the full five-star rating when their entry-level model is being tested.

This is why the Global New Car Assessment Programme (GNCAP) and Mahindra celebrated when the entry-level version of its popular XUV300 received a full five-star rating for occupant protection, making it the highest-ranked new vehicle ever tested in the #SaferCarsForIndia and #SaferCarsForAfrica rankings.

To achieve this ranking, the GNCAP crashed and destroyed several versions of the XUV300 before testing the effect of the crash tests on the body structure, steering wheel, seats and footwells of the destroyed vehicles. These destructive tests are conducted according to strict scientific protocols, which you can read in full here: http://www.globalncap.org/about/

At the same time, the GNCAP evaluated the impact of the crash on the crash-test dummies. These dummies, called anthropomorphic test devices by the crash-test scientists, have bodies and artificial limbs and organs that are similar to those of humans. The way in which they are damaged in an accident gives the GNCAP scientists a good understanding of how an adult or child would be hurt in a car accident.

There are several important considerations when it comes to vehicle crash tests. These tests must be done in a way that is repeatable, that meets the standards for vehicle safety set by the United Nations and regional vehicle testing bodies, especially those in large vehicle markets such as Europe, the USA, India and Australia, and they must be scientifically validated.

The Global NCAP testing system closely replicates that of the strictest crash test systems in the world, which means that a crash rating from the GNCAP can hold its own in any part of the world.

These standards are very precise about every aspect of the vehicle body integrity and the damage to the occupants, and they have certain non-negotiable standards, which have to be met regardless of the damage to the crash test-dummies or any other measurement.

For instance, if a car is tested in an offset frontal crash, one where the vehicle is crashed into a static barrier at 64 km/h, the GNCAP standards require that the structural integrity of the vehicle remains as close to perfect as possible, regardless of the working of the airbags or any other safety equipment.

Put differently, the GNCAP scientists would not score a vehicle very highly if the body structure was damaged, even if the airbags have deployed. It would after all be of little use to have good airbags that deploy in milliseconds when the A-pillar or footwell was bent or deformed in the accident, causing injuries to the occupants.

Another strict rule that is set by the GNCAP scientists is that the airbags have to work perfectly. If they fail to deploy in an accident, deploy slowly or make contact with the dummies’ heads in the wrong place, they will fail the test.

These very strict rules apply both to the frontal tests and to the side impact test, where the XUV300 is parked in the crash test facility and rammed, at high speed, by a metal sledge. This type of test would mimic a crash from the side where another vehicle would hit the car on the side doors in an accident.

In the case of the Mahindra XUV300, the GNCAP scientists highlighted the impressive structural integrity and perfect working of the airbags during their tests. They also acknowledged the presence of ISOFIX child seat mountings at the rear, which allowed them to safely mount a child seat for the dummy of an 18-month-old baby next to the dummy of a three-year-old child.

After the tests, the engineers and scientist noted nearly no significant body deformation on both the front and side-impact. This meant that the occupants were kept safe and that the other active and passive safety equipment, like the airbags and ABS brakes, could work perfectly to keep the occupants safe.

In fact, the GNCAP gave the Mahindra XUV300 a final score of 16.42 out of 17 for the protection of adults and 37.44 out of 49 for the protection of children, even though the vehicle only had two airbags, as opposed to the W8 specification, which includes additional safety equipment such as vehicle stability control and five more airbags for a total of seven airbags.

In their report, which you can find here: globalncap.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/SaferCarsForIndia-Mah300.pdf the body shell was rated as stable and as capable of withstanding even higher loads, the scientific term for being safe at even higher impacts that were tested by the GNCAP.

This makes the Mahindra XUV300 the safest car ever tested by the GNCAP and the safest vehicle for any South African family looking for an affordable, durable and luxurious compact SUV.

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