Posts Tagged ‘fifth gear’

Small Cars Are Safe Too

Posted by Stephen On Thursday, January 20th, 2011

There is a persistent myth that a car that is small is a car that is dangerous. Gordon Murray, the former F1 designer who is the brains behind the new T.27 city car and iStream manufacturing process knows that this is not true. Not only does his design greatly simplify the manufacturing process, reducing cost and environmental damage along the way, but it is also incredibly strong.

Despite diminutive dimensions, the T.27 passed the 35 mph full frontal crash test at MIRA with flying colors and zero cabin intrusion. When your car is so small and the space for crumple zones so limited, a result like this really does show the incredible strength of the vehicle.

It should not come as too much of a surprise when you remember that this technology is trickling down from F1. An F1 car is not big either, but has amazing strength to withstand impact and protect the driver. The 180 mph  crash below involving Gerhard Berger in 1989 was one I remember clearly. The viewers and commentators alike were convinced that he would not make it, but he did so without any long-term effects (mainly burns, rather than impact damage).

This is 1989 F1 technology in action, so it is not surprising that we can have a similar level of protection in 2011 in our affordable city cars. And, unlike this F1 car, the T.27 is designed to be an electric car, so there is no danger of nasty fuel conflagrations either.

But if you are still not convinced of the strength of modern small cars, take a look at Fifth Gear crashing this Smart head on into concrete at 70 mph. Not a survivable crash scenario in even larger cars, but notice how even on this older Smart, the passenger cell is intact.

Can we put the small-cars-are-dangerous argument to rest now?