The restraint system used single stage tethered airbags teamed with belts fitted with pre-tensioners and load limiters. These worked well although loads on the occupants’ chests were a little high. Unfortunately the driver risked knee injuries from hard points behind the fascia. The body proved very strong after the impact showing minimal distortion around the sill and screen pillar areas, while the footwell suffered only minor deformation. All rear seats have three-point belts. The centre belt had a safety device so that it would not unreel unless the foldable seat back was correctly latched.
The seat-mounted thorax airbag and head curtain airbag worked well; the latter protecting the rear occupants as well as those in the front.
Both children used Fair Bimbo Fix Type II vehicle-specific ISOFIX restraints. The 18-month-old’s was rear-facing and the three-year-old’s was forward-facing. These protected their heads from hitting inside the car, but the 18-month child suffered higher chest loading. The labelling on the restraints was clear and permanent. There was inadequate warning against placing a rear-facing restraint on the front passenger seat opposite an airbag. Although there is a switch fitted to turn the airbag on and off, the danger of misuse and serious harm remains.
The A3 offered cushioning where an adult and child’s head would most likely strike but the car’s wings and front were ‘unfriendly’. The bumper and the leading edge of the bonnet offered no protection. A poor result for a new car.
The A3 has a very strong and stable passenger safety cage. As a measure of this, after the test the driver’s door could still be opened normally. The restraint systems and air bags protected the occupants and kept the driver’s chest and head away from the steering wheel. Side impact protection was also impressive. The child seats used two-point ISOFIX mountings and did well although loads fed through to the 18-month-old child’s chest proved to be a little high. Pedestrian protection was poor.