One of the long-time knocks against small cars has been that they sacrifice safety for efficiency. However, modern crash simulation and testing technology, as well as material science, is making that complaint a thing of the past. Case in point: the 2011 Ford Fiesta has just scored a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).
The Fiesta is the first B-segment car to get the top ranking since IIHS added new roof crush requirements to its rating system. Extensive computer simulation has allowed body engineers to tailor the use of high-strength steels and conventional steels in order to direct the energy of an impact into areas of the body that won't affect the occupants. Designing in paths that collapse in a controlled manner helps to keep the passenger cell intact and, in many cases, like the one shown above, the doors still open normally even after the collision.
The performance of the Fiesta is particularly impressive since Ford has managed to avoid the very thick pillars found on many other newer cars. Those thick pillars can create very large blind spots increasing the chance of a collision.