This is a strong car, giving its occupants all-round protection. Its structure remained stable and the driver’s door could still be opened after the frontal impact. The driver’s airbag did its job but may have reached the limit of its ability to protect in this test. The side-impact protection was satisfactory, but the manufacturer also decided to fund a test using a Lupo fitted with optional side airbags. The three-year-old’s child restraint was a vehicle-specific ISOFIX type that connected to mounting points within the rear seat.
Loads on the chests of both front occupants were commendably low in this size of car. A metal plate was fitted under the steering column to protect the driver’s knees and was covered with polyurethane foam of varying thickness. However, this design still allows for large loads to be transferred to the upper leg and risks penetrating knee injuries.
The Lupo gives reasonable protection in a side impact but there is a slightly high risk of chest injury. VW decided to show how much safer the car is when fitted with the optional side airbags, which give full protection. If these airbags were standard, the Lupo would be the safest small car we have tested so far.
A passenger airbag is standard and Volkswagen need to take seriously the risk to children if a rear-facing restraint is fitted onto the front passenger’s seat. Only a pictogram (which was hard to understand), and a removable windscreen label were fitted and neither conveyed the risk of serious injury or death. The 18-month-old was secured in a rear-facing universal restraint that worked better in the frontal impact than it did in the side. The three-year-old’s restraint kept the loading on the child within safe limits but it was still unable to prevent his head moving too far forward in the frontal test or to contain it in the side impact.
The test results for heads were average for a modern car. However the Lupo’s front is too stiff to protect against leg injury.