Since the Euro NCAP car crash tests change radically this year, we review the 5 worst results from 1997 – 2019 in this article.
1. BMW 3-series (E36), 1997
In the very first year of Euro NCAP crash tests, several models received only 1 out of 5 stars: Citroen Xantia, Rover 100, Rover 600, Saab 900, and BMW 3. Here, we focus on the latter, since this is the only premium car in the group of bad guys, and since we tend to expect better from expensive German cars.
With a frontal impact, as well as with a side impact, the driver in those years was immediately gone: a frontal collision threatens to amputate both legs, and the red colored chest suggests severe rib fractures. On a side impact, the chest was slightly better off, but all internal organs will be scrambled.
So where do such injuries come from? The results specified: The steering wheel was 22.3 cm moved back on impact, legroom was severely caved in, the power structure was deformed, and the brake pedal moved back 32.1 cm. Moreover, the airbag deployed late and hence didn’t provide any chest protection.
2. Nissan Navara (2nd gen), 2008.
Once a Euro NCAP tested car did not receive one single star, for that one star that it was awarded was later removed by experts. This car was the 2nd generation Nissan Navara.
The hardest hit during a frontal impact was the driver dummy - there was not a single living place left on it. The head, feet and left shin are red, while the right shin and rib cage are both brown. The passenger, at first glance, seems to be better off with just a fractured right hip, but when we look closely, we find a red neck (!). One look at the test report tells us enough: The gas pedal was slammed into the cabin by 20 cm, the damaged dashboard destroyed the hips and the airbags and seat belt protection deployed so late that they had little to no effect upon impact.
No legs, but alive!
Interestingly, Nissan immediately reacted to the results and announced its willingness to "cooperate with the investigation." A few months later, the Japanese presented the car with structural changes, including adjustments of the airbags and seatbelts. As a result, the passenger's neck turned from red to green, as did the driver's head and neck. However, in the area of the legs it did not get much better: the feet remained crumbled, as well as severe fractures of the legs. Yet, according to Euro NCAP experts, the new results were good for 3 stars, and the 2015 Navara even received 4 stars.
The Fiat Punto also received a 0-star result in 2017. However, oddly enough, none of the Punto dummy's body parts were painted red, except for the neck of those sitting on the front seats in a rear impact. In other words, the Punto was safer than the 10 year younger Navara and yet the Italian was left without stars – This is one of the quirks of the Euro NCAP methods.
3. Dacia Duster (1st gen), 2011.
According to the results of Renault models, not all European manufacturers are equally valuable to the company. This can be clearly seen from the test history of Dacia cars.
In 2005, the first generation Logan’s were tested: during a side impact on a pole the driver died from impact on the chest, and upon a frontal impact he was left without feet. Three years later, Sandero received the same 3 stars, with the ribcage turning brown and the feet turning yellow upon side impact – progress indeed, but yet insufficient. Duster also got 3 stars, with the driver's feet no longer being impacted upon frontal impact. Since the Duster is still sold, let's have a look at its test results.
4. Lancia Ypsilon (3rd gen), 2015.
The Italian Lancia Ypsilon, which is still being produced in its third generation, was victim of crash test method changes. The car entered the market in 2015, just when Euro NCAP experts introduced a new and extremely tough test: a frontal impact on a solid fully overlapping barrier at 50 km/h – an imitation of hitting a concrete wall. Since the design of the Ypsilon began long before these changes became known, Fiat engineers simply did not have time to take this into consideration. To be fair, not just Ypsilon couldn’t cope with this test: for many years automakers failed it, but the Italian was the first to get burnt and went down in history for it.
Burn after impact
The passenger diagonally behind the driver had no chance: all the areas of the body are red, one of the rarest, if not the only case in Euro NCAP history. The driver has the same chances of surviving: the head is painted red, so the rest is basically irrelevant. Moreover, the Ypsilon trials were even accompanied by a fire! After one of the frontal impacts, a fire broke out in the engine compartment, so they decided not to carry out the remaining imitation of a side collision with a pillar, which is why the last figure underneath is not colored.
5. Aiways U5, 2019.
The starting price of the Chinese electric startup Aiways car was €25.000, which is extremely low for a compact electric crossover. Alas, the safety of this car is just as low, only 3 stars. Interestingly, during a frontal impact on a deformable barrier, the Chinese actually showed an almost perfect result – 7.9 out of 8! With the safety of the neck everything was fine as well (marked green) and the neck of the person in the second row was only a little worse (orange). Finally, the U5 hit a hard obstacle with full overlap better than the vast majority of models. So what's the matter, why did the Chinese become the worst last year?
It turns out that the car gave up when simulating a lateral collision with a pillar, and even as the chest is orange, the driver's head is red since the airbag did not protect the dummy's head from contact with the pillar at all. After studying the results, Chinese engineers made adjustments to the design and the airbag, and although the Euro NCAP was informed about this, the Aiways U5 was never retested.