Changes in crash test safety rating among different variants

Instead of testing only the base variant of a car, why not go a step ahead and test the higher variants as well?

BHPian saikishor recently shared this with other enthusiasts.

I have seen two cars in which the safety rating has increased because of the presence of airbags.

Chevrolet Beat

The car with airbags scored 4 stars and the one without airbags, has scored a clean duck.

Volkswagen Polo

Same goes with this German beauty, which has aged like fine wine with time. The car with airbags has scored a competent 4 stars, while the one without airbags scored a golden duck.

What I fail to understand is, instead of testing only the base variant of a car, why not go a step-ahead and test the higher variants as well?

Case in point: Kia Seltos

Ok, there might be a ton of differences between the Australian-spec Seltos and the Indian-spec Seltos. But one thing for sure is that the number of airbags in both of these cars are different. So, why not test the higher spec variants of the car as well, instead of just testing the base spec?

Would love to hear from others.

Here's what BHPian Fastdriver had to say on the matter:

It is their policy to persuade / convince / push car companies to make safer cars from the base variants so that car occupants' lives can be saved in the event of an accident and also to make the authorities concerned/public aware of safety measures to be introduced in the cars. Nowadays in India base variants of cars also come with airbags, I think because of awareness.

Here's what BHPian CEF_Beasts had to say on the matter:

Answer to your question is that the GNCAP has to buy the car themselves unless sent voluntarily by the manufacturer (like Tata did for the Nexon and Altroz). So for this reason, GNCAP picks the base variants of most cars.

Also in India, a car is still considered a luxury and very often people buy the base variants of cars and then modify them according to their needs (touchscreen, seat covers, etc etc.)

Case in point are the Creta E and Seltos HTE variants, these variants sell in bucket loads and end up in aftermarket stores for modifications.

You can add as many airbags to a car but somewhere the weak structure may still come in the way. Now in case of the Seltos (2 airbag version) which underwent the front offset crash test, a 6 airbag Indian Seltos wouldn’t have churned out a different result because it was a front impact test which needed the front 2 airbags to open. Yes, the 6 airbag version would have given better results in the side impact test but not by a huge margin. Kia India has clearly cut costs in the manufacturing of the Seltos to give a lower starting price, compared to the Australian or American Seltos.

Here's what BHPian VKumar had to say on the matter:

It's the metal that protects you from the impact of metal. Clothes don't protect you from a hammer impact, do they?

The day a truck's front bumper or rear chassis extension is in front of your eyes while moving at 24 meters per second, it's only the metal that doesn't simply crumple and the A pillars those won't simply get crushed like an A4 sheet - that will save you, airbags, even if 20 of them, are not going to help you in case the metal has come past your A pillars or has crushed the protective metallic shell.

IMO, dual front airbags with a competent chassis are any day better than a paper boat with 6 airbags. After all, it's the metal extrusion that decides what will hit you and what will crush you. So, if the chassis is unstable, additional side airbags can at max change the result of a small frontal overlap crash slightly or side crash ratings quite decently, but if it's a simple head on or complete overlap, I doubt if having six airbags can deliver any major advantage.

But, if it's a rollover, I would love to have side airbags too.

I normally take safety quite seriously, but I still don't believe the star ratings completely too. If I have to collide with an over enthusiastically driven bus, or an overloaded uncontrolled truck, I would prefer to be inside a 3 star rated Seltos or 0 star rated Scorpio than a 5 star rated City or Vento, or Altroz - because there is a difference between colliding with a heavy vehicle, and simply going under it.

Coming to NCAP, if a car has 0 airbags, it's a by default zero rating for such cars I believe. Hence, a zero for a car without airbags can be taken with a pinch of salt.

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