An inherently strong body structure backed by a suite of active and passive safety systems makes the new Chevrolet Cruze amongst the safest vehicles in its class.
With a structural design and occupant protection systems designed to meet the exacting standards of international safety certification organisations such as Euro NCAP and the US Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) the Cruze offers piece of mind to vehicle occupants.
One of the key safety performance requirements which the Cruze has been designed to comply with is the 2010 standard for roll over performance that will be applied in the United States. This requires the body structure to be capable of withstanding 2,5 times its own weight in a roll over situation.
Driver, passenger and seat side airbags are standard on the L specification grade while side curtain airbags are added as standard to the LS and LT specification grades. Active safety systems include ABS anti-lock brakes on all models with EBD on the LS models and Traction Control on the 1.8 LS and 1.8 LT models.
The body structure incorporates a number of load paths to effectively distribute crash impact energy through the structure from virtually any direction. Full-length beams and reinforcements in the sill areas, B-pillars and A-pillars that utilise high-strength steels and tailored blank processing contribute to the excellent crashworthiness of the Cruze.
Energy absorbing front and rear crumple zones are designed to deform efficiently and progressively to assist in maintaining the integrity of the passenger compartment.
The bumper beam, longitudinal rails and the front sub-frame make up the front crumple zone of the Cruze that bears the brunt of any frontal crash impact.
The longitudinal rails are made of high strength steel and absorb energy while carrying high loads in the event of a crash impact as they collapse as they are designed to do. The hydro-formed front sub-frame, used to carry the engine and transmission, has structural foam incorporated at the front end of its side rails for increased strength and capacity to absorb energy as the rails deform.
The transition zone, that consists of the lower A-pillars and the instrument panel steel cross beam, distributes residual impact energy around the passenger compartment.
What is in effect a safety cage around the passenger compartment is reinforced with tubular-section members that frame the door openings and support the roof. The floor pan, side sill box sections, centre tunnel, A- and B-pillars, and the front mid section rails also support the front crumple zone and redirect energy away from the passenger compartment.
The combination of a single piece side structure and ultra-high strength steel door beams provides for effective side impact protection.
The rear of the body structure is designed to provide protection for the occupants as well as the fuel tank and its connections. Like the front crumple zone it is designed to absorb a high level of impact energy. The moulded fuel tank is located low down between the rear longitudinal rails and is capable of recovering from compression caused by an impact without rupturing.
A sturdy rear suspension cross-member provides additional resistance to impact energy from the rear and also assists in transferring crash impact loads through to the sill areas after the longitudinal rails have deformed. Most national crash test standards are based on a rear impact of 50 km/h. GM’s own requirements include rear impacts of up to 80 km/h at an angle, not just straight on.
The front and rear bumper skins are designed to absorb light impact energy – impacts up to 4 km/h – helping to minimise damage to the bodywork. At higher impact speeds the bumper beams come into play to absorb and distribute impact energy.
Occupant protection systems
Three point seat belts with pre-tensioners are provided for all five seats. Front seat occupants benefit from a load limiting function in the seat belts that acts to reduce peak loadings on the chest area in the event of a heavy impact. Seatbelt fasteners for the front seats are attached to the front seat frames for automatic fore and aft adjustment in line with the position of the seat. The fixing point on the b-pillar also offers adjustment to afford seat occupants the highest level of comfort.
Driver, passenger and side curtain airbags are standard on the L specification grade while driver and passenger airbags plus seat mounted side airbags and curtain side airbags are standard on the LS and LT specification grades. The side airbags, mounted on the outer extremities of the front seat backs provide protection for the thorax and pelvic areas. Curtain side airbags provide upper body protection for occupants on both sides of the vehicle.
A Sensing and Diagnostic Module (SDM) incorporated in the onboard systems of the Cruze controls the deployment of the airbags and seat belt pre-tensioners according to inputs from sensors in the front bumper and B-pillar. The SDM senses the severity and location of an impact and then determines in what combination the various airbags and pre-tensioners should be deployed.
By way of example, side airbags need to be inflated more rapidly than front airbags due to the close proximity of any impact. The SDM will deploy side airbags within five milliseconds in the event of a car-to-car collision, and within 15 milliseconds in a lower speed impact, such as occurs when the vehicle slides off the road into a tree for instance.
Additional occupant protection measures includes a collapsible pedal assembly that folds away in the event of a moderate to heavy impact. This acts to reduce intrusion into the driver’s footspace. Energy absorbing materials are placed in strategic areas of the pillars, header and roof rails to provide added protection against head injuries.
Child safety seats can be secured in any of the three rear seat positions. In compliance with ISOFIX standards two steel loops are provided for a child seat attachment on each of the outer rear seats. A set of three top tether anchors on the rear surface of the centre back seat provide for the secure attachment of a child seat in this position.
The bonnet area of the Cruze has been designed to reduce the likelihood of a pedestrian’s head striking hard objects like the engine in the event of a pedestrian accident. This is achieved by providing an impact absorbing space between the engine and other hard components and the bonnet itself. The bonnet hinges are designed to spring upward – raising the bonnet in the process – in the event of such an impact. The bonnet itself is designed to be more impact absorbent as well.