Safety has always been a top priority at Saab, even before they were the first manufacturer to fit safety belts as standard items on a vehicle.
I’m not 100% on this, but I believe the Saab 9-3 has been an IIHS Top Safety Pick ever since its release. There was a time when Saab was a safety leader, but as happens, others catch up.
Last year there were 94 cars that were awarded the IIHS Top Safety Pick. So like the people at EuroNCAP, the IIHS people decided to change the test and make it tougher. As a result, there were only 27 cars awarded the Top Safety Pick this year.
The new test included rollover protection for the first time.
ARLINGTON, VA – Nineteen cars and 8 SUVs earn the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s TOP SAFETY PICK award for 2010 For the first time, good performance in a roof strength test to measure protection in a rollover is required to win. TOP SAFETY PICK recognizes vehicles that do the best job of protecting people in front, side, rear, and now rollover crashes based on good ratings in Institute tests.
It should be noted that the Saab 9-3 was not tested for the 2010 results in terms of rollover protection. The lack of a Top Safety Pick award, therefore, should not lead to the conclusion that the 2010 model Saab 9-3 would not have been eligible.
Other former Top Safety Pick winning companies that missed out this year included BMW, Mazda and Mitsubishi.
This brings up an interesting conundrum.
Saab, like any other company, would want to retain TSP and EuroNCAP 5-star status. Subaru are going to have yet another feather in their recently enlarged cap by gaining TSP status in all categories for which they were eligible. They were the only manufacturer to do so.
Real world crash statistics show that Saabs are still amongst the safest cars on the road and I’m sure they will look at these new tests and do what they can to satisfy them.
But one has to wonder how far these tests will end up going. If they continue to be non-exclusive as they were last year (94 winners), will they then find something else to add, just to make themselves a target again.