The Volvo V40 has achieved the best score of any car to be tested for pedestrian protection, according to leading safety body Euro NCAP.
In Euro NCAP's tests, the new Volvo V40 scored 88 per cent for pedestrian protection, the highest score ever achieved by a car for that section of the assessment. The car also scored 98 per cent for adult occupants and 75 per cent for child occupants.
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The Volvo V40 scored five stars overall. Factors that helped the V40's impressive scores include the car's heralded groundbreaking Passenger Airbag technology, which is fitted as standard across the entire Volvo range.
The Volvo 2009/10 Corporate Report boldly claims on the first page: "By 2020, no one shall be killed or injured in a new Volvo car." The manufacturer appears to be on course to fulfil this claim if these results are an indicator for the future direction of the brand.
Sensors in the car's Passenger Airbag technology detect crash impact, release the bonnet and immediately inflate the airbag. The airbag also partly covers A-pillars, which also offer greater protection to pedestrians.
'Volvo demonstrated that the system would operate over a range of speeds and would detect different pedestrian statures. The system worked well, the bonnet offering good protection in all areas likely to be struck by a pedestrian's head, making the V40 the first car to score maximum points in this area,' says the official Euro NCAP report for the Volvo V40.
"A fantastic result. We are very proud to have one of the world's safest cars and we're taking yet another important step toward our 2020 target - that nobody should die or be seriously injured in a new Volvo," says Thomas Broberg, Senior Technical Advisor Safety at Volvo Car Corporation.
"The new Volvo V40 was launched as the most intelligent and the safest car in its segment, and it is truly packed with active safety systems such as auto brake, Pedestrian Detection to shield pedestrians, Lane Keeping Aid which helps the driver stay within his or her lane, and BLIS which helps the driver detect vehicles in the offset rear ‘blind spot'."
Other cars to be tested include the new Ford B-Max, the Isuzu D-Max, the Kia cee'd, the Audi A3 and the Renault Clio.
The new Ford B-Max, due for release in the UK on 12 September, also scored five stars. Euro NCAP praised the car's structure, and how well the car copes with lateral collisions when the doors are shut. The B-Max has no middle columns, with the car's shell instead forming a central post when the doors are fully closed. The B-Max scored 92 per cent for adult occupant protection.
The Clio, cee'd and A3 also achieved a five-star rating with all cars uniformly offering better pedestrian protection against their predecessors.
According to Euro NCAP, the new Isuzu D-Max - which scored four stars - is 'significantly improved compared to the model tested in 2008'. Improvements on the older model include better safety for adult occupants and children, though the D-Max fell just short of achieving five stars because of a low pedestrian safety score.
Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP Secretary General, says, "In Europe, 14 percent of all road traffic fatalities are pedestrians. While in the last three years Euro NCAP has increased the requirements, the vehicle manufacturers have stepped up to the challenge. The scores observed today were unthinkable just a few years ago with the new V40 setting a new standard."
Euro NCAP is the leading independent motoring safety authority in the EU. Though there is basic EU safety legislation available that all vehicles are required to meet before they go on sale (the European Whole Vehicle Type Approval), Euro NCAP goes one step further, pushing manufacturers to improve safety standards with a huge variety of crash tests at its European locations.
You can find out more about the V40 by reading our Volvo V40 review.
Written by John Meadowcroft