Lada improves passive safety with new Vesta model

Private crash testing has shown good preliminary results on the latest model to come from Russian car maker Lada.

Lada Vesta crash test in RussiaWith a long reputation for making cars that fold up like cartons or disintegrate completely in collisions, Russian car-maker AvtoVaz, which is responsible for the Lada brand, has made a significant step forward in its latest model, the Lada Vesta.

Built in the company’s Izhevsk factory in the Volga basin and bought for 570 thousand rubles (5000 pounds) from a dealership in nearby Perm, the test model was acquired by the private Auto Review company as part of its “Auto Review Car Assessment Programme” (ARCAP) which puts new vehicles through an NCAP-style set of tests to determine their crashworthiness.

With the car’s predecessor, the desperately misjudged and lamentable Lada Priora, having crumpled at the window pillars in similar tests, all eyes were on the Vesta to see if improvements had been made in the way the occupant protection cage holds together during crash tests.

The limited tests performed at the Dmitrovsky test facility included two adult dummies occupying the driver and front passenger positions and the car was fitted with standard-equipment dual front air bags, both of which deployed on impact and both of which provided the expected level of protection to the occupants.

The 40% offset 64 kph (40 mph) frontal crash test also resulted in minimal occupant cell deformation and even the windscreen remained in place. Although full analysis of the test results aren’t available, preliminary assessments report that the car performed “within expectations” and significantly better than its predecessor.

According to a spokesman from the Dmitrovsky test centre, “There was only an insignificant amount of deformation of the offside front roof pillar and so the car demonstrated good protection against deformation of the occupant protection cage.”

Child occupant protection, pedestrian protection and active safety system presence and effectiveness didn’t feature as part of the testing process.

Automatic Emergency Call

The Lada Vesta is also fitted with the Russian automatic emergency ERA-GLONASS call system, which the testers failed to disable prior to testing. As a result, the car’s communication system received a call from the Public Service Access Point (PSAP) to gather further details of the automatic emergency call it received.

The testers explained that it was a test being performed at the proving ground and then reported the “successful functioning” of the in-car ERA-GLONASS system.

Lada safety improvements

The new Lada Vesta marks a significant departure for the Russian Federation from its previous laissez faire approach to providing safe vehicles. All previous models from the AutoVAZ Lada range as well as other manufacturers in the country fell a long way short of any acceptable safety standards that have existed for the past three decades, something which the Vesta could reverse.

The main reason for this is the recruitment by AutoVAZ of celebrated UK designer, Steve Mattin who is credited with the creation of the Vesta design.

Steve Mattin has enormous experience in vehicle engineering and has had huge influence on safety engineering within the automotive industry, having previously worked on iconic designs at Mercedes-Benz and more recently at Volvo where he was responsible for the S60, V60 and XC60, cars which are at the forefront of safe vehicle design.

Whether Mattin can fully bring his influence to fruition within the budgetary constraints of the Russian car maker remains to be seen but it is clear from the preliminary crash test results that the Lada Vesta is a massive leap in the right direction.

A video of the crash test follows:

Jonathan Newell

Studied Engineering at Loughborough University and now involved in broadcast and technical journalism. Jonathan is based in London and Almaty.

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