Safety  - Overview - Volvo C30

Volvos are renowned for their safety. This commitment is as old as the company itself. As Assar Gabrielsson, one of the founders of Volvo, declared: 'Cars are driven by people. The guiding principle behind everything we make at Volvo, therefore, is - and must remain - safety.' Volvo has been responsible for some of the most important safety innovations including the three-point safety belt (1959), front head restraints (1968), and the side airbag (1994).

As with all Volvos, the C30 was developed and extensively crash tested in the company's world renowned Safety Centre in Gothenburg, Sweden, to ensure class-leading safety.

The goal with the Volvo C30 was to match the safety of the larger (by 22cm, or 8.5 inches) Volvo S40, one of the world's safest small saloons. 'We were fortunate to use the entire front end structure of the Volvo S40 saloon and V50 Sportswagon,' says project director Hakan Abrahamsson. 'That ensured that all front-end safety issues were taken care of.'

More difficult to engineer was rear-end safety, as the Volvo C30 has a shorter tail than a saloon.

However, due to careful use of different grades of steel, including ultra-high strength steel, and a carefully designed deformation process, the Volvo C30 offers the same high level of rear-end protection. Rear side members are a crucial tool: they are designed to absorb most of the impact forces in the early stage of an accident.

As with all Volvos, the structure of the car is divided into different safety zones and different grades of steel are employed in different areas.

The low-speed deformation zones - the front and rear of the car - are capable of absorbing a low-speed accident without damaging the rest of the body structure. The crash boxes can then be replaced, reducing repair costs.

The high-speed deformation zones include lower and upper side members. Made from high strength steel, they are capable of absorbing very high levels of energy - as they must, as there is less space for progressive deformation before encroaching on the cabin. The upper side members provide significant protection in an accident, especially with larger vehicles.

A back-up zone, around the front pillars, is made from extra high-strength steel and acts as a safety barrier. This section is extremely rigid and prevents potentially dangerous objects, such as front wheels, from entering the cabin area. In addition, a rigid cross member connects the A-pillars and the lower side members. They form a rigid three-way attachment, which maintains the integrity of the cabin in a severe impact.

Compact transverse engines contribute to safety

Engines play a crucial role in crash protection. Transversely mounted engines have an inherent advantage over longitudinal, or fore-aft, units. They are less likely to enter the cabin area in a severe frontal impact, and the extra fore-aft space around the engine gives the crash protection systems more chance to work properly, particularly in deformation. In addition, Volvo's engines are especially compact. The five-cylinder engines are especially trim in exterior dimensions. In a frontal collision, the engine can be pushed rearward by 150mm before the block makes contact with the ultra-strong cross member near the cabin bulkhead. In such a collision, most parts - including the potentially dangerous battery - move to pre-destined positions.

Class leading impact protection

Apart from the enormously strong body, the Volvo C30 is a fitted with state-of-the-art safety equipment to protect all occupants. The safety features are all standard across the range, Volvo does not believe in two-tier safety standards.

The two front airbags are 'intelligent' in actuation, deployed in two-stages depending on the severity of the impact. This reduces the likelihood of facial injuries caused by the airbag hitting an occupant too hard. The side airbags play a crucial role in protecting chests and hips. On the Volvo C30, they are fitted in the outer edge of the front seats, not in the doors, so they're always securely positioned next to the occupant's side, whatever the position or angle of the seat.

Inflatable curtains sit in the headlining, protecting front and rear occupants. In a side impact, the curtains inflate in a few thousands of a second and remain inflated for about three seconds to provide maximum protection.

The airbags are complemented by three-point safety belts with tensioners, fitted to all four seats. The tensioners activate within a few thousands of a second after a collision and tighten the belt for maximum protection. The front seat belts then 'give' a little so that driver and front seat passenger are cushioned by the front airbags in a controlled way. A seat-belt reminder system is fitted to both front and rear seats.

The SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) prevents side intrusions by dissipating much of the side impact force through protective beams, the pillars, floor, roof, and other parts of the body.

WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System) prevents neck and back injuries in rear-end collisions, and is now standard on all Volvos. In a rear-end accident, the entire backrest of the front seats automatically moves rearwards to prevent neck and back strain.

Rounded edges reduce risks to pedestrians and cyclists

Volvos are not sharp edged cars; that's not the styling philosophy. This helps reduce injury to pedestrians and cyclists. Despite the more aggressive, sportier style of the Volvo C30, the front bumper is still gently rounded to provide maximum cushioning in the event of hitting a pedestrian or cyclist. The energy absorbent properties of the specially designed bumper also reduce leg injuries.

The deep chin spoiler is also a big safety asset. It ensures there is little likelihood of any unfortunate accident victim going under the car. Instead, a person would be thrown over the car - over the front bumper and bonnet, which are especially designed to inflict minimum injury.

Primary safety features prevent accidents

Volvo does its best to protect everyone in an accident. More important is to try to prevent the accident in the first place. The Volvo C30 is full of accident avoiding features. These include its agility, superb brakes, great steering and a host of electronic accident-avoidance features that stop skids and slides.

DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control) is standard on every Volvo model and prevents wheel spin or skids by either braking the wheel that has lost traction or by reducing engine power.

ABS (Anti-lock brakes) are standard. EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution) and EBA (Electronic Brake Assist) ensure the car stops in the shortest possible distance and with the maximum amount of control in emergencies.

The Volvo C30 also has excellent visibility, a real boon for safety. Rear, and rear three-quarter, visibility is helped by the deep glass tailgate and deep contoured side glass. In addition, the Volvo C30 can be fitted with BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) that uses cameras mounted in the side door mirrors to register if another vehicle is in the blind spot. A warning lamp near the mirror alerts the driver.

IDIS (Intelligent Driver Information System) is also standard. It continually monitors steering wheel movement, accelerator pedal movement, braking and indicator controls, and works out how preoccupied the driver is. If IDIS concludes that the driver is fully occupied, less important feedback - such as certain warning controls or incoming calls to the integrated telephone - will be delayed.

    See also:

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