Of all the mainstream cars we’ve revealed in the last few weeks as the hullabaloo of Geneva ensued, the new Volvo V40 has garnered more readers than any other, which surely augers well for the new V40’s prospects.
It’s not just that Volvo seem to have got the whole looks thing right, but they’ve also managed to create a car in the new V40 that just has instant appeal. It’s an almost intangible thing, but whatever it is, the V40 has it.
But one thing the new V40 offers that caused much discussion at Cars UK Towers is the fancy new pedestrian airbag, and that’s because one of our team was daft enough to step in front of a car doing 40mph as a teenager, resulting in much damage to car and pedestrian. Would the new pedestrian airbag have saved him from being badly mangled?
It turns out that Volvo’s clever pedestrian airbag wouldn’t have helped, but that’s because it’s designed to protect pedestrians in the vast majority of accidents which happen between 12mph and 30mph – not kamikaze pedestrians who jump out in front of moving cars at 40mph.
But if you’re a normal pedestrian who just happens to wander out in the road in traffic at normal speeds, the pedestrian airbag on the new V40 will do a lot to mitigate your injuries. As soon as the impact occurs, the trailing edge of the bonnet lifts and a U-shaped airbag is deployed, designed to cushion impact against the side of the windscreen and pillars.
We asked Volvo why the airbag was U-shaped, leaving the centre of the windscreen clear, which is exactly where our very own kamikaze pedestrian managed to strike with some force.
The explanation is that at sub-30mph impacts the pedestrian is most likely to be projected sideways towards the edge of the screen and pillars – where the U-shaped airbag does extend – and not straight at the windscreen, so it makes sense to have a U-shaped airbag as that would still allow the driver to see where they were going even once the airbag deployed.
Now all Volvo need to do is develop a kamikaze pedestrian catcher and we’ll all be able to step out in front of a passing V40 with impunity.
2012 Volvo V40 Photo Gallery
(14 photos – click any thumbnail for full size)