Its style, space and versatility credentials have already been acclaimed, and now another important feature of the new Fiat 500L has been highlighted – its safety rating. The new 500L, which goes on sale in the UK next spring, has just been awarded the prestigious Euro NCAP 5-star crash safety rating with an overall score of 83/100, including 94% for adult occupant protection, 78% for child occupant protection, 65% for pedestrian protection and 71% for driving assistance safety systems.
The rating is even more significant considering that since 2012, Euro NCAP has adopted even stricter access thresholds for the 5-star rating in relation to adult occupant, child occupant and pedestrian protection. This major accolade once again confirms Fiat’s commitment to all aspects relating to the protection of all road users.
To guarantee the protection of passengers and the other road users, the new 500L is designed to satisfy all international standards, guaranteeing the highest safety levels available today.
Thousands of hours of virtual simulations facilitated the creation of Fiat’s new ‘Small Wide’ architecture, which is making its debut on the 500L, and the entire car was created without using prototypes. The quality of this virtual design was materially put to the test on cars made at the plant by running 200 tests on components and sub-systems, over 100 shock test simulations and more than 100 crash tests taking all possible types of impact into consideration: frontal impact, side impact, rollover, pile-up and impacts with pedestrians. In addition, various speeds at which impacts may occur were also taken into consideration, as well as different types of obstacles and different types of occupants with greatly varying physical characteristics.
The end result is a car with a safety cell structure complete with twin pillars at the front, designed in line with current US regulations as far as crash tests and dimensional specifications of the materials used are concerned. Specifically, the three load line front structure guarantees structural uniformity and consequently uniformity of response in the event of frontal impact, regardless of the type of obstacle or vehicle the car crashes into. This is a breakthrough in partner protection, because the vehicle is less ‘aggressive’ in the event of a crash into the front or side of another vehicle, and in self protection, because the uniform deformation makes the retaining systems more effective, regardless of the type of crash.
For complete protection of its occupants, the new Fiat 500L is supplied as standard with front and window airbags – driver knee bags are available upon request – along with three-point seat belts with double pretensioners and load limiters. Significant contributions to occupant and pedestrian protection are provided by the body, the bonnet, doors and the dashboard crossmember, in addition to the seats and steering column. In case of impact, the steering column is designed to collapse, protecting the driver, even in the case of frontal impacts more severe than the Euro NCAP standard.
In addition, as regards preventive safety, the Fiat 500L has front headlights with a Daytime Running Lights function as well as fog lights with a ‘self-adaptive cornering’ function.
The new model also comes as standard with active safety systems such as: ABS with BAS (Brake Assist System) and the sophisticated ESC (Electronic Stability Control) that intervenes in conditions close to the limit, when the car’s stability is at risk, and helps the driver control it.
The Fiat 500L ESC is equipped with several useful functions:
- ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) system, which optimises traction at any speed, with the help of the brakes and engine management, allowing the Fiat 500L to cope easily on low-grip road surfaces.
- Hill-holder: the system that assists the driver in starting-off uphill by applying the brakes for about two seconds, thus making hill starts easier without requiring the driver to press the brake pedal or use the hand brake.
- MSR (Motor Schleppmoment Regelung): when there is a brisk gear change in poor grip conditions, the MSR function intervenes, restoring engine torque and preventing the wheels from locking and spinning.
- DST (Driving Steering Torque): the system improves both driving safety and handling performance. The active electronic steering carries out corrections automatically and also controls oversteer on surfaces with low grip in all driving conditions.
- ERM (Electronic Rollover Mitigation) is the function which intervenes when a wheel leaves the road surface: in fact, whenever an extreme dynamic movement is detected, the ERM helps to restabilise the vehicle and returns control of the car to the driver.
Mention should also be made of the new City Brake Control system which is capable of recognising obstacles in front of the car and of applying the brakes automatically when the driver fails to do so, to avoid an impact. Depending on certain parameters (road surface conditions, dynamics and trajectory of the vehicle, position of the obstacles and condition of the tyres, etc.), the intervention of the system can avoid impact completely (Collision Avoidance) or minimise the consequences of a possible impact (Collision Mitigation).
The sophisticated systems of the new 500L integrate three additional functions: Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Prefill and Brake Assist. The former, while respecting the driver’s wishes and leaving full control of the car in his/her hands, is triggered by emergency braking after carefully assessing the position and speed of the obstacles, the speed of the vehicle (below 30 km/h), lateral acceleration, the steering angle and pressure on the accelerator pedal and its variation. The Prefill function prefills the braking system to provide a quicker response both when Automatic Emergency Braking intervenes and if the driver brakes. Brake Assist, on the other hand, recognises emergency situations and alters the brake pedal’s response to achieve quicker braking in emergency situations.