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Debris flies as the Chevy Spark crashes into a rigid barrier at 40 mph (64 km/h). As with all of the other minicars tested, the Spark's structure did not hold up well, says IIHS. But other Spark occupant-protection systems as a group performed better than did those of competitors' cars.

Minicars as group do badly in IIHS frontal offset crash testing

Of eleven minicars evaluated in recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) "small overlap front" crash testing, only one achieved an "acceptable" rating. With "good" ratings in the testing organization's four other categories, the 2014 Chevrolet Spark qualifies as an IIHS 2014 Top Safety Pick—the only one among minicars. The small overlap front test replicates what happens when 25% of the vehicle's front (driver's side) strikes a tree or pole at 40 mph (64 km/h). "Small, lightweight vehicles have an inherent safety disadvantage," IIHS said today in a press release, which also notes that consumers should compare vehicles only within the same weight class (in this case minicars), not across weight classes. "Acceptable" is the second highest rating behind "good," followed by "marginal" and "poor." Four minicars were rated marginal (Mazda Mazda2, Kia Rio, Toyota Yaris, Ford Fiesta) and six poor (Mitsubishi Mirage, Nissan Versa sedan, Toyota Prius c, Hyundai Accent, Fiat 500, Honda Fit). Six criteria are measured to arrive at an overall score for the small overlap front test. The other four tests besides "small overlap front" that IIHS uses in giving vehicles an overall rating are the moderate overlap front; side; roof strength; and head restraints and seats. To qualify for an IIHS Top Safety Pick, a vehicle must achieve a good rating in every test except the small overlap front, for which it must score a good or acceptable. Click here to view an IIHS video on the small overlap testing program and results.

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