IIHS Names Ford Fiesta A 2010 Top Safety Pick

By John Beltz Snyder

August 26, 2010

Since the introduction of the roof strength test (an important addition indeed), it has been more difficult to earn a Top Safety Pick from the International Institute for Highway Safety. Small cars, especially, have been criticized for their perceived vulnerability in crashes. The 2011 Ford Fiesta, however, has overcome that to become the eighth vehicle from the automaker to win the award. 

Ford credits the Fiesta’s energy-absorbing structure, high-strength steel, stability control, and multiple airbags for the new city car’s safety rating. The Fiesta even features an airbag for the driver’s knees, something unseen elsewhere in this segment.
We’re glad to hear that the Fiesta has been marked for its outstanding safety. We hope that this helps settle the debate as to the safety of small cars. Also, we’d like to see improved safety become a trend in these entertaining, urban runabouts—a valuable commodity in cars that are so fun and easy to drive near their limits.
Scroll down for more information in Ford’s press release.
    * The 2011 Ford Fiesta has earned a 2010 Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) – it is the first mini-car to do so since the introduction of a new roof strength test
    * Fiesta’s energy-absorbing body structure is optimized for strength and stiffness and designed to absorb and redirect crash forces away from the passenger compartment
    * Fiesta features the most standard airbags in the mini-car segment and standard stability control – a requirement for any Top Safety Pick vehicle
    * Ford has the most Top Safety Picks of any automaker
The New 2011 Ford Fiesta
DEARBORN, Mich., Aug. 25, 2010 – The 2011 Ford Fiesta is the first mini-car to earn a Top Safety Pick from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) since the introduction of a new roof strength test. The award applies to vehicles built after July 2010. The Fiesta is the eighth Ford Motor Company vehicle to earn the Institute's top designation – breaking a tie with Toyota for the most “Top Safety Picks” of any automaker.
Fiesta’s extensive use of high-strength steels, Trinity front crash structure, Side Protection And Cabin Enhancement (SPACE) Architecture® and advanced airbag technologies helped the car perform well in IIHS testing. Fiesta’s energy-absorbing body structure is optimized for strength and stiffness and designed to absorb and redirect crash forces away from the passenger compartment. Plus, it features the most standard airbags in its segment, as well as standard electronic stability control – a must-have feature for Top Safety Pick eligibility.
“Fiesta is proof that a small car can deliver big safety, and earning a Top Safety Pick further demonstrates Ford’s commitment to providing all of our customers with world-class crash protection,” said Sue Cischke, Ford’s group vice president of Sustainability, Environment and Safety Engineering. “Fiesta combines rigidity and more airbags – smartly deployed – than its competition, as well as standard stability control.”
Strong and stylish
Beneath Fiesta’s stylish exterior is a robust structure, crafted from high-strength steels engineered to preserve quality and enhance driver and passenger safety.
Fiesta uses significant cold- and hot-formed high-strength steel in the body structure. These components add rigidity and save weight, increasing structural efficiency while also helping Fiesta deliver class-leading fuel efficiency of 40 mpg, which is achieved with Ford’s new six-speed PowerShift automatic transmission.
More than 55 percent of Fiesta’s body structure uses these high-strength or ultra-high-strength steels in the floor structure, front rails, beams and in the ultra-rigid, integrated body reinforcement ring designed to help better protect occupants in side impacts.
Fiesta A- and B-pillars are fashioned from ultra-high-strength aluminized boron steel, adding robustness while allowing for slim width and rake to honor Fiesta’s distinctive design. Rocker panels – with welded baffles to absorb impact – also are crafted from very high-strength, dual-phase steels, known for their energy-absorption qualities. The side roof arch employs dual-phase steel construction. The under-floor support beams – so-called sled runners – and lateral floor reinforcements also use high-strength, dual-phase steel. These light but strong metals in Fiesta’s robust body shell help enhance crash protection by adding strength, rigidity and durability.
Segment-busting safety
The Fiesta body shell is well equipped with safety features to help protect its occupants in the event of a collision, including the most standard airbags in the segment.
Fiesta offers a segment-exclusive driver’s knee airbag, developed to help reduce lower leg injuries in the event of a frontal collision and to work together with other safety features. The knee airbag joins a suite of Fiesta safety features including dual-stage first-row airbags, side-impact airbags and side curtain airbags. A knee airbag won’t be found in Honda Fit, Nissan Versa or Toyota Yaris. Move up to Civic, Sentra and Corolla and you still won’t find a driver’s knee airbag.
“Smart” Passenger Occupant Detection System (PODS) sensors determine occupant weight and seat belt status to optimize deployment force. Smart sensors include the class-exclusive side-impact sensor that uses pressure to react up to 30 percent faster than previous sensor offerings.
Also available on the Fiesta is Ford’s AdvanceTrac® with ESC (electronic stability control), which uses sensors to detect and measure yaw, or side-to-side skidding conditions, by monitoring vehicle speed, throttle position and steering wheel angle. When AdvanceTrac senses wheel slip, engine torque is reduced and braking is applied where needed to help the driver keep the car tracking on its intended path.
“Fiesta sets a new benchmark for small car safety,” Cischke said. “Fiesta is a clear example that making a safe car doesn’t mean making a large car or a heavy car. Fiesta has it all; safety, good design and driving character.”