Flawless safety from the XC90
VOLVO’S commitment to having zero occupant fatalities in its cars by the year 2020 appears to be well on track, after new data showed its XC90 SUV had not suffered a single fatal accident in the UK since it was first released in 2002.
The XC90, now in its second generation, has regularly been touted as a super-safe car – both generations achieved five stars in their respective Euro NCAP crash tests, and the most recent was named the organisation’s safest car of 2017.
That second-generation car offers classleading active safety features, including standard-fit autonomous emergency braking (AEB), large animal detection and blindspot monitoring. But it’s not just the active safety that contributes, says Matthew Avery, research director at Thatcham.
“All second-generation Volvo XC90s have had AEB as standard, so they’ve all had collision avoidance systems out of the factory. But before that, none of them had the collision avoidance systems we’re talking about,” says Avery.
“So most of the delivery of safety of that vehicle, the fact that no one’s been killed in it, is because of the good structure. It’s about reprogramming the energy in the collision, about good restraints, good seatbelts, pretensioners and load limiters. It’s also about good airbags. The real delivery is not the collision avoidance systems, it’s because it’s got really good passive safety.”
The Volvo holds up to scrutiny. In Euro NCAP’s 2003 crash test, the car was noted to have an ‘immensely strong body’ that provides ‘safe, all-round protection for its passengers’. The report goes on to say the The Volvo XC90 has not suffered a single fatal accident in the UK since it was launched in 2002 body performed ‘exceptionally well’ in front impact tests, while side impact tests were ‘among the lowest seen by Euro NCAP’ at the time of testing. The 2015 model received similar praise, gaining full points for its protection of children in car seats as well as its protection in the side barrier test.
Thatcham is now calling on other vehicle manufacturers to focus on passive safety, in addition to headline-grabbing active safety features. “Vehicle manufacturers can’t back off from active safety. Volvo’s XC90 shows you have to have very good passive safety, and you can built the active safety on top of that,” says Avery.
However, he notes AEB does have a part to play. “I can see the collision avoidance systems are working. The smaller XC60 with its standard fit AEB system is reducing frontinto-rear crashes by something like 40%, so I’m sure the XC90 will be just as good.” The Mercedes A-Class is set to go electric.