This car has put in a strong performance. If the side impact head-protecting airbag had been standard equipment and not an option, the 75 would have come close to matching the Laguna’s five-star rating. The driver’s door opened easily after the frontal impact and points were deducted only for forces that loaded his chest. The body’s rigidity resulted in high restraint loads that distorted one of the child restraints. Britax confirmed that its restraint was at its design limit when used here.
The front seat belts were fitted with load limiters and buckle-mounted pre-tensioners. Even so, the driver suffered a high chest loading. The knee impact area was particularly well designed and there were no hard points that could damage his knees and thighs. The footwell remained intact, posing few hazards for his feet and ankles. The centre rear belt was a three- point, giving superior protection to that of a two-point lap belt.
No points were lost in the side impact performance. However Rover provides an optional head-protecting side airbag that, if fitted, takes the rating close to five stars. Rover paid for a pole test to be conducted. The car passed, confirming that the head-protecting airbag performs well.
A passenger airbag can be dangerous for a child placed opposite it in a rear-facing restraint. The Rover 75 had a passenger’s airbag as standard so good warning labels were essential. There were only poor warning labels on the passenger’s end of the facia. Rover said warning labels will also be fitted to the sun visors. The load from restraining the 3-year-old distorted his Britax Club Class Universal restraint. This increased forward movement of the child’s head. Rover and Britax have investigated and Britax has modified the restraint. The 18-month child was in an identical restraint used rear-facing and this protected well in the frontal impact.
The car’s front is uncompromising. Only the bonnet in the area that a child’s head might strike gave limited protection.