Last week, Nissan announced it will ax the ancient Tsuru sedan from its Mexican lineup next year. This appalling crash test had a lot to do with the decision.
Nissan did not cite the Tsuru’s dreadful, zero star safety rating as the reason for it being dropped. But there has to be an extremely compelling cause to drop a product that still sells well and makes a lot of money.
This test was staged by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Latin NCAP, and Global NCAP as part for their #NoZeroStarCars campaign. It pitted a 2016 Nissan Versa, the cheapest sedan the automaker sells in the United States, against a 2015 Nissan Tsuru, the cheapest sedan it sells in Mexico.
The two cars were catapulted towards each other at 40 miles per hour ( kilometers per hour), with a “50 percent overlap”. The impact is absolutely terrifying, completely obliterating the Tsuru. Aside from the wheel well intrusion, which would destroy the driver’s legs, the frame twists to much that the driver’s head strikes the windshield pillar. That would surely be a fatal blow. It’s doubtful any other passengers would have fared much better, especially as the entire center stack is ejected from the dashboard and ricochets around the cabin like a bullet.
By contrast, the Versa’s modern safety cage stands up to the test very well. It’s still an ugly impact, but the driver is held in place and cushioned by the front and side airbags, and there is no visible cabin intrusion or deformation. The driver would likely walk away from the wreck, rattled and a bit sore, but otherwise fine.
A locally-built version of the 1990 Sentra, the Tsuru was launched in Mexico 1992 and has long been a favorite a taxi drivers and lower income families. Despite being linked to over 4,000 road deaths between 2007 and 2012 alone, according to NCAP. The organization, along with the Inter-American Development Bank, is urging major Latin American countries to adopt basic U.N. vehicle safety regulations.
Zero star cars are also a considerable problem in India and other developing countries.