The Volvo's performance was almost good enough to earn it a fourth star. This car gained full marks in the side-impact test, (a commendation for Volvo's SIPS protection system) and it easily passes legislation taking effect from October. This performance was not fully matched by the protection given to occupants in the frontal impact, however – the driver's legs and feet were inadequately protected. And the absence of a knee bolster (a production omission) meant a frontal impact re-test was allowed. In the pedestrian tests, head protection was good but it proved poor for legs.
The Volvo S70 obtained a high-scoring three-star Euro NCAP rating when the car was first tested in 1998. When Euro NCAP decided to include a pole test in its crash assessment protocols, Volvo commissioned one such test to prove that the head-protecting airbag that has been fitted as standard on S70s from the 1998 model year would satisfy the test requirements. The car did just that. The improvement in occupant protection for side impact that the test demonstrated now earns the 1999 S70 the coveted four-star Euro NCAP rating. The airbag tested is a seat-mounted thorax device that has an upper chamber to provide protection for the head.
The bodyshell remained stable and any distortion of the passenger cabin was minor. Contact between the driver's head and airbag was judged to be stable, although this was a marginal decision because the dummy's head rolled to the left as its body reached the limit of its forward travel. The front belts had reel mounted pre-tensioners. Post-impact examination of the car discovered hard contact points in the area the driver's knees would hit. The car's underside was damaged by the impact and there was a big fold and a sharp tear to the floorpan's right-hand side. There were also other openings at foot level in the firewall, one behind the brake pedal, another at a seam to the left-hand side of the wheel arch.
The impact triggered the seat-mounted side airbags on both sides of the car. The driver's airbag protected his chest and abdomen but his pelvis struck the inner door trim, which was supported by a cardboard structure. The car achieved a maximum score in this aspect of testing, an impressive result.
The restraints used were Volvo-branded non-universal seats approved under R44.03 for children weighing 3-18kg. These seats are designed to face rearwards and were also braced against the car floor. They proved compatible with the car's adult belts and provided good protection.
The bumper and bonnet leading edge of the Volvo were hard and offered pedestrians little protection. However, the bonnet top came close to fully meeting the draft regulations on pedestrian protection. It came close to achieving three stars, which would have been a first for this part of the tests.