The Smart’s is very strong and stiff in frontal impact so the restraint systems have to work hard and weaknesses were found in the loading on the passenger’s chest and the driver’s upper legs. Of concern, in side impact the dummy’s head hit the rail above the door, however if the optional side impact airbag is fitted then improved padding is provided in this area. As we tested with a passenger dummy it was not possible to test the special Smart child restraint which has to fit on the passenger’s seat.
Both the driver and passenger’s airbags worked well but the restraint system for the passenger caused a high risk of injury to the chest. The driver’s shins contacted a die-cast beam which goes across the width of the car. Although this has padding and a deformable element in front of it, the loading on one of the driver’s upper legs was still very high. However the footwell was hardly deformed with little risk to the feet and ankles.
The side impact performance of the standard car was good but with a concern that the dummy’s head hit the rail above the door. In the standard car there is no padding in this area and a more substantial contact could occur with a different size of occupant. There was also a problem over this in the first test of the Smart with an optional side impact airbag and head padding. This problem was solved after MCC modified the head padding and retested the car. The only loss of points to the side impact score in the standard car was from the abdomen that was loaded by the protruding armrest. With the optional side impact airbag this problem is solved.
A child restraint can only be fitted in the passenger’s seat because this is only a two seated car where a very large airbag poses a very real threat of severe injury or death for a child. Although we did not test the restraint system the warning to parents about this hazard was inadequate and Smart needs to take this more seriously. In fact a child can only be safe in this position if the special Smart child restraint is used, which when fitted turns off the airbag. But of course a universal child restraint will fit and this combination would be lethal.
Despite the Smart’s size and stiffness the protection provided for pedestrians was average for this group of cars.