Clever Volvo blends sleek with safety in V40

Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.Douglas A. Bolduc is managing editor at Automotive News Europe.
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The Volvo V40 is a striking example of how Europe's much-maligned pedestrian safety standards actually made a car sleeker rather than doing the opposite.

V40 designer Chris Benjamin says the new entry-premium car is 29mm lower to the ground than the car it replaces, the C30, because Volvo was able to hide the world's first pedestrian airbag under the hood of the car.

Had Volvo not used this clever solution, the V40 would have had a taller stance to comply with the pedestrian rules. Benjamin says this would have resulted in a very different look for the car.

Critics of the EU-mandated pedestrian safety rules said the requirements would be devastating to auto designs.

The more optimistic view was that car stylists would find smart ways to make the rules work to their advantage.

The V40 pedestrian airbag lifts the hood, covers the space under the raised hood as well as a third of the windshield area and the lower part of the A-pillar.

Benjamin and Volvo did just that. The result is that Volvo maintains it reputation for being a safety pioneer while also meeting newer objectives to build sexy, technologically exciting cars.

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