Small cars aren't necessarily unsafe, as good engineering and quality materials can go a long way towards making up for the size disadvantage that they face in many accidents. Sometimes, though, corners can be cut in order to save a few bucks, and the U.K. agency Thatcham suggests that the seats in small city cars could use some help.
"City cars are not equipped to protect their occupants' necks when they have to absorb the crash energy from larger, heavier vehicles which combined with poor seat design makes whiplash far more likely. Good seat design is not something that should be inherently linked to higher value cars and this latest set of results will hopefully act as a catalyst for vehicle manufacturers to look at improving seat and head restraints design within this important and growing sector," says Matthew Avery, a research manager at Thatcham.

Because city cars spend much of their time in traffic, which is where whiplash is most likely, these latest tests indicate that much more work is required from manufacturers. Not a single mini-car tested performed well enough to earn a "good" whiplash protection rating, while the smart fortwo and Renault Twingo were the only mini's rated as "acceptable."

[Source: Thatcham]

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