Looking for a tie breaker to tip the scales in favor of a potential MINI Cooper purchase? Then consider this: MINI USA is a recipient of three different automotive industry awards for 2015. They are, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) "Top Safety Pick," and two awards from the Automotive Science Group (ASG), for "Best All-Around Performance", and "Best Social Performance."
The IIHS award went to the 2015 MINI Cooper Countryman Hatchback, in the small car category. The award is based on the vehicle's ability to protect its occupants during two different offset front end collision scenarios. One is the "Moderate Overlap Frontal Test" and the other is the "Small Overlap Frontal Test." In the Moderate, the test vehicle is propelled at 40 miles per hour into a deformable barrier which is positioned so that 40 percent of the width of the front of the vehicle strikes the barrier. This presents a more significant challenge to vehicle's structure than a full-front collision. The offset collision involves outer portions of the car that aren't reinforced as well as the central section. Also, the occupants tend to move both forward and toward the side of the vehicle at the same time.
In the Small Offset test, only 25 percent of the vehicle strikes the barrier, putting even more strain on the vehicle's outer body structure. In many such collisions, the front wheel may even come loose and be pushed into the footwell, with potential for serious leg or foot injury to the occupants. These tests differ from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) New Car Assessment Program (NCAP) crash tests that use direct, 100 percent frontal impacts, in that they provide more accurate real world data on how different vehicles can be expected to provide protection and how the different safety systems work together in a dynamic situation.
The IIHS also puts vehicles through a side impact test that uses a larger moving barrier than the NHTSA tests that use a typical car-height moving barrier. The IIHS test barrier is taller in order to more accurately replicate an impact from a larger SUV or other larger vehicle that are common on today's roads.
The Countryman scored "good" ratings in almost every area of evaluation. Vehicles that are rated "good" statistically provide significantly more protection and chance of survival with minimal injuries than vehicles that are rated fair or poor.
The other two awards from the ASG provide some information about the role of the manufacturer in world economic and environmental stewardship, awarding points for fuel economy, energy efficiency during the manufacturing process, responsible use of natural resources and ethical treatment of employees in the entire supply chain. ASG compiles this information to help potential buyers evaluate vehicles from a more holistic point of view than the obvious considerations of the most commonly compared features. In this day and age when so many vehicles are similar in specification and appearance (though I think MINIs stand out in that department), concerns about the impact of our vehicles over the course of their existence, cradle-to-grave as it were, are more important than ever.
This year's ASG awards both went to the 2015 MINI Cooper 2 door with the 3 cylinder, 1.5L Turbocharged engine. The Best 5 All-Around Performance Award goes to the 5 vehicles with "the best combined Social, Environmental and Economic Performance in class." The Best Social Performance Award "is awarded to the vehicle whose production chain ensures the highest level of protection for environmental justice of all peoples."
Congrats to MINI and look forward to more of these in the future as they have claimed some of these awards several years running!
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