The SEAT Ibiza was originally tested without a driver’s airbag. However to improve safety of their car SEAT have decided to change the standard specification to include an airbag from 4 September production. Although this has not improved the star rating, it does remove the threat of a high chance of severe or fatal injury from the steering wheel. Other than this, the car gave reasonable protection with some worries over the quality of construction and the weakness of the door in side impact.
Even with an airbag, the driver’s head is at risk from contact with the steering wheel by bottoming out the airbag. The car is equipped with reel-mounted seat belt retractors, which are designed to limit forward movement in the event of a frontal crash. Under the fascia there were aggressive structures which would damage a driver’s knees and hips in a frontal crash. The passenger’s head hit the fascia so that in other accidents it could be a risk of serious injury. Only a simple two point static belt was fitted in the centre rear seat, which can cause severe spinal and abdominal injuries.
Most of the intrusion was low down which caused more of a risk of injury to the pelvis and abdomen rather than the head and chest. In fact the chest injury risk is very low but the loading on the chest was reduced by an interaction between the dummy and seat structure that could not occur with a human torso. The occupants head is put at risk of striking something because of the unusual body motion caused by being hit so low down.
The 1½-year-old’s restraint was rear facing using the adult seat belts, but this places the child’s legs resting on the seat back; so it is questionable whether this type of restraint is suitable in a small car. This restraint performed well but the seat belt routing was confusing, as there was two possible routes for the lap belt. The 1½-year-old had a bad experience in the side impact where the head contacted the central pillar causing a sever risk of injury. The 3-year-old child restraint is a vehicle specific seat that uses mounting points in the seat and this performed fairly well in frontal impact but failed to contain the child’s head in side impact.
The pedestrian protection was better than most with a several good sites for head protection and a reasonably compliant bonnet leading edge. This is unusual as many manufacturers fail to protect pedestrians in this area. One of the bumper test points also gave a fair result.