It is easy to see the Fiat 500 is a great looking car on the outside, but, as they say, it is what is inside that counts, and the 500 also has that covered.
In Europe, the Fiat 500 was the first car in its class to achieve a five-star crash rating by Euro NCAP, Europe's crash testing organization. The North American Fiat 500's chassis has been significantly upgraded and strengthened compared with its European cousin. The US car has not been rated, but with all the reinforcements and improvements, it is expected to do quite well.
Here are some pictures of the reinforcements and structural elements of the US 500.
Beauty is more than skin deep when it comes to the Fiat 500.
Significant reinforcements under the skin.
The floor pan of the Fiat 500 features this prominent center tunnel and cross brace.
The floor tunnel is a significant source of strength to the Fiat 500.
The large brace that crosses the car under the seats contributes to side impact safety.
Part of the safety cage construction. The Fiat 500 has a rigid passenger compartment, with energy absorbing front and rear sections.
The roof reinforcements of the Fiat 500.
The Fiat 500 has energy absorbing 2½ mph bumpers front and rear.
The Fiat 500 is built on the concept of controlled collapsibility. The softer outer sections of the car absorb the energy of a collision. Note the third load path. This was added to the North American Fiat 500 and is not featured on the European Fiat 500. It is one of the updates the 500 received for our market. It is also the reason the NAFTA 500 has a five speed and not the six speed offered in Europe. It was a safety trade-off as the additional load path takes up the added space the six speed requires.
These load paths distribute the collision forces in a controlled way, into and around the car...
absorbing the energy, and....
slowing the deceleration forces so, by the time they reach the passengers, they are in a manageable range, and the seat belts/air bags can be effective.
This US spec Fiat 500 has undergone a 40mph offset front impact.
The outer area absorbed the impact. The passenger compartment remained intact.
The car had a cracked windshield and the drivers door opens and closes normally.
This is the crash test of the European Fiat 500. The US version benefits from three years more development and updates to the chassis. The US car has a third front load path added, along with a significantly stronger body, especially at the rear and on the sides. The European Fiat 500 was the first car of its size to achieve a 5 star crash rating. In fact, it would achieve a 6 star crash rating, when and if, that standard is adopted.