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New Fiat 500 minicar: Safety

Fiat 500 with its 7 airbags.

7 standard airbags except for the Naked version.

The new Fiat 500 is the first car in this category to offer up to 7 airbags (front, side, curtain- and knee-bags are all standard throughout the range, except for the Naked version).

It also provides active safety elements such as the ABS with EBD function (standard on the Pop, Sports and Lounge versions), ESP (Electronic Stability Program, standard or optional, depending on versions and markets), which includes other function such as the ASR (Anti Slip Regulation), HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance) and a Hill Holder device.

Seat-belts with double pretensioners and load limiters are standard on the front seats, with three-point belts at the rear. The front and rear seats are fitted with anti-submarining devices that prevent the occupant from sliding forward, under the seat-belt. Isofix attachments for child seats are standard throughout the range.

The ABS comes complete with EBD (Electronic Brake Distribution). The latter distributes the braking force between the front and rear wheels to prevent the rear wheels from locking.

The ESP (Electronic Stability Program) is standard with the 1.4 engine and optional with the other two engines. It incorporates sensors that measure the wheel speed, the vehicle’s rotation around its vertical axis (yaw speed), the lateral acceleration and the steering angle set by the driver (which indicates his chosen direction). If the front or rear is about to veer (understeer or oversteer), the system brakes the appropriate wheel (nearside or offside), and reduces the engine power by adjusting the throttle valve. ESP is always engaged.

The ASR (Anti Slip Regulation) is part of the ESP system. It functions at all speeds and adjusts torque on the basis of the grip detected. The system helps to maintain vehicle stability when there is a loss of grip, either by decreasing the throttle valve aperture, or by automatically brakes the slipping wheel.

Another advantage of ASR is the reduction of stress on mechanical organs such as the differential and gearbox, which is achieved by controlling take-off and traction at low speeds. ASR is engaged automatically every time the engine is started, but can be excluded by a switch on the centre console (when snow chains are mounted for instance).

On cars fitted with ESP, the HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assistance) function (known also as the BA system in other brands) is performed electronically by the ABS control unit. During ‘panic’ braking, the Brake Assist devices are triggered, to ensure the best deceleration that would be achieved by braking with every possible force.

The Hill Holder system helps the driver on hill starts. During a hill start, the pressure on the front brake callipers is maintained for about 2 seconds after the driver releases the brake pedal, allowing him to set off without difficulty. The Hill Holder is not activated when the car is started downhill with first speed engaged. Similarly, when reverse is engaged, the system is activated for downhill starts, and it is not activated for uphill starts.

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