The Vel Satis gives Renault another car (the Laguna was its first) safe enough to merit the coveted Euro NCAP five-star rating. The Vel Satis gained a maximum score for side-impact protection, while losing only two points for its performance in the frontal impact. Testers noted that the car’s twin seat belt pre-tensioners greatly reduced the risk of leg injury for the driver by restricting his forward movement during an impact. Both children were well looked after and their restraints met all Euro NCAP performance limits. However, protection provided for pedestrians that the car might strike was very poor. Renault needs to improve this vital safety aspect.
The frontal airbags inflate in two stages to increase the protection they give in the most severe accidents. A sensor is also incorporated in the system to determine the size of the driver to modify the aggresiveness of the airbag for smaller drivers. They worked well and, together with the car’s strong body and a steering column that moved little, they provided a safe environment for the driver. Renault had tried to increase protection for the driver’s knees and upper legs. But Euro NCAP said that the steering column just put the driver’s left knee at risk and so lost a point. The driver’s footwell saw very little intrusion after the impact, and padding protected his feet. The car’s centre rear seat had a three-point belt that is much safer than a lap-only belt.
An impressive protection system includes a thorax side airbag and a head-protecting curtain to protect all passengers. The Vel Satis achieved a maximum score.
Renault earned praise for its clear warnings against placing a rear facing restraint opposite an airbag. Renault’s Kiddy Easyfix restraints used special mounting points fitted to the adult seats. The older child’s seat had a securing strap running from its top over the seat back and fixed in the boot. The younger child’s seat had a leg to brace it against the floor. Both children’s heads were fully protected in side and frontal impacts, which is hard to achieve.
The front of the car is very stiff and only small areas of the bonnet gave protection. A dismal performance.