This is the second part of a 2 part posting in which we'll discuss how the Fiat 500 achieved its high safety ratings. In the first part, we discussed the assumption that small cars can't be safe.
Safety at all cost with no impact on pricing... this was the mantra of the new Fiat 500. Fiat, the company responsible for Ferrari, Maserati and Alfa Romeo, put all of its engineering talent into designing the Fiat 500 to be the first sub compact car (3.55 meters or 139 inches) to achieve a 5-star crash rating. Indeed, it is also ready to achieve the 6-star crash rating if and when that rating is introduced.
Notice how the windshield /A pillar keeps its relative shape.
longer and 546 pounds heavier than the Fiat 500.
The new FIAT 500 won the EuroCarBody 2007 award
The 600 specialists, from 15 international carmakers, gave the award to the Fiat 500, assigning it 38.33 points out of a possible 50. This enabled the “small” Fiat – the only segment A model present – to defeat the other 11 candidates from Japan, the United States, Europe and Russia. In view of the fact that the award had never before been assigned to a subcompact in its entire eight-year history points out that the Fiat 500 is not the typical small car Americans are used to.
Listed below were the competitors to the Fiat 500. Notice the prices of the cars that the 500 beat.
7.Audi A5 - 33,90 points - 33,100 Euro - $46,546
10.Lada 2116 Sedan - 25,85 points - Price not available
The body shell of the Fiat 500 is made with (expensive) high tensile steel. It is rigid around the passenger compartment to protect occupants and has high-absorption areas on the outside. It is the first super-mini with a front structure designed specifically to improve compatibility between vehicles in a head-on impact.
The forum was particularly impressed by the innovative bodyshell’s contribution to winning a 5-star EuroNCAP rating and high marks in insurance crash tests: a feat that puts the Fiat 500 at the top of its class in safety and is all the more remarkable considering that the car is a mere three and a half meters long. It marked the first time that a compact car had been built to achieve a 5-star rating in the EuroNCAP impact tests. Additionally, the Fiat 500 was designed for the future 6-star test.
Besides its strong body shell, the Fiat 500 is equipped with many safety features: 7 airbags as standard equipment (it is the only compact to offer a kneebag), Seat-belts with double pretensioners, pedal support designed to break away at set impact threshold, FPS fire prevention system, front and rear seats with antisubmarining crossbeam and an advanced ESP available with all engines (standard on the 100 bhp 1.4 16v engine).
The new model is the first car in this category to offer up to 7 airbags (front, side, curtain- and knee-bags are all standard throughout the range, except for the Naked version).
The front passenger airbag may be deactivated via the menu of the vehicle’s on-board computer; a dashboard warning light indicates this condition. The seatbelt pretensioner remains active, however, so a rear facing baby seat can be safely fitted.
Not your average seat belts
Seat-belts with double pretensioners and load limiters are standard on the front seats. These pretetensioner devices instantly tighten the seat belt to take out any dangerouse slack in the event of an accident. These are the types of belts found mainly in premium vehicles. They are rarely seen in cars of this size. Three-point belts are fitted at the rear. The front and rear seats are also fitted with antisubmarining devices that prevent the occupant from sliding forward, under the seat-belt. Isofix (LATCH child seat) mounting attachments are standard throughout the range.
The pedal assembly on the Fiat 500 moves out of the way in the event of an impact. This helps protect the feet and legs during a collision, eliminating a major source of injury. This feature is ussually reserved for high end luxury cars, not cars in this size class.
FPS - Fire Prevention System
The FPS Fire Prevention System includes a cut-off valve and an inertia switch which immediately stops the electric fuel pump to prevent fuel loss in the case of impact, roll-over or damage to the fuel lines. The fuel tank, located in a protected position in front of the rear axle, is resistant to mechanical stress and fire. The 500's interior trim is also flame resistant.
Automatic door locks
Fitted as standard equipment on all models, switchable automatic door locks can be activated on all doors as soon as the 500 reaches 12 mph – an important safety and security feature.
The front discs have a diameter of 240 mm; they are solid for versions with the 1.2 8v engine and ventilated for the 1.3 Multijet, with a diameter of 257 mm for versions with the 100 bhp 1.4 16v.
The rear brakes mount drums (180 mm) on the 1.2 8v and 1.3 Multijet, and discs (240 mm) on the 1.4 16v. The 9” brake servo makes braking easier and more effective, decreasing the effort needed on the pedal.
The ABS on the Fiat 500 has four active sensors, four channels, a hydraulic control unit with eight solenoids and comes complete with EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution). The system can guarantee the best possible braking effort even with each wheel close to locking, which means it is possible to control the direction of the car fully in emergency situations using the steering wheel.
The strong points of the system are the active sensors, which process the wheel speed data themselves (without having to send them to the control unit); they can read values very close to naught (most cars use passive sensors which do not register speeds below 2.5 km/h) and are less sensitive to disturbance caused by electromagnetic fields.
ESP (Electronic Stability Program)
The new Fiat 500 offers the sophisticated Electronic Stability Program to guarantee complete control over the car; this program cuts in when conditions are close to the limit, and the car’s stability is at risk, to help the driver to control the vehicle (the device is standard with the 1.4 engine and an option with the other two).
To do so, ESP constantly verifies how the tires grip the ground, longitudinally and laterally, and if the car does skid, it cuts in to recover the trajectory and trim stability. It incorporates sensors that measure the wheel speed, the vehicle’s rotation around its vertical axis (yaw speed), the lateral acceleration and the steering angle set by the driver (which indicates his chosen direction).
It then compares these data with the parameters processed by a computer and uses a complex mathematical model to establish whether the car is taking a bend within the grip limits, or whether the front or rear is about to veer (understeer or oversteer).
To bring it back to the correct trajectory, the system generates a yaw moment opposite to the one that caused the instability, singly braking the appropriate wheel (nearside or offside), and reducing the engine power by adjusting the throttle valve.
This is where the device developed for the Fiat 500 differs from other systems. Its intervention on the brakes is modulated to be as gentle as possible (therefore without disturbing the driving), and the reduction in engine power is limited, to guarantee excellent performance and enjoyable driving at all times. ESP is always engaged.
ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) and MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung)
To limit any slipping of the driving wheels when grip on the road is poor, the new Fiat 500 is equipped with a sophisticated device that controls traction automatically. It is known as ASR (Anti Slip Regulation), and is standard equipment on all versions that mount the ESP system. ASR functions at all speeds and adjusts torque on the basis of the grip detected.
The Fiat 500 adopts a device that assists in emergency braking. On cars fitted with ESP this function is performed electronically by the ABS control unit and it is called HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance).
On the new model, at this point the Brake Assist devices are triggered, and although the pressure on the pedal remains the same, they ensure the same deceleration that you would achieve by braking with every possible force. The panic braking assist is also useful for more expert drivers who do brake rapidly, and with the right amount of energy when necessary.
Because in any case the system reduces braking implementation time, i.e. the time between the moment he applies the force on the pedal and the moment that the circuit reaches maximum pressure and can give its best performance.
The Hill Holder is a system that helps the driver on hill starts. It cuts in when the ESP control unit perceives a difference in the inclination of the car through a longitudinal acceleration sensor on the floor under the front passenger seat.
Fiat pulled out all the stops when it came to designing the Fiat 500. The safety features, designs and thought that went into the 500 befits cars costing two or three times its price.
From the ground breaking Topolino of the 1930's, the Nuova 500 of the 1950's, a car that gave a generation of Europeans access to real automotive transportation, the 1966 Car of the Year Fiat 124 that offered modern features and engineering in an affordable package and the breakthrough 1969 Car of the Year Fiat 128, the car on which all modern front wheel drive cars are based on. Each one of these cars and all the other Car of the Year winners Fiat has produced have always put people first.
Fittingly, the company's motto is "People first, then cars." It is this legacy that is carried on with the new Fiat 500.
Thanks to Fiat Group Press and YouTube Channel PaulMullett