SAAB 9-3 CONTINUES LEGACY OF RENOWNED SAFETY
Extensive safety features for Real-life Safety
NORCROSS, Ga. - The extensive standard safety features in all 1999 Saab 9-3 models include, but are not limited to, the Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR), driver and passenger front airbags, dual-stage head and torso protecting side-impact airbags, and a collision force deflecting pendulum "B" pillar side-impact protection system. These features, together with the high strength steel reinforced safety cage around the passenger compartment and front and rear crumple zones, give the Saab 9-3 a very high level of crashworthiness. All safety systems in the Saab 9-3 have been developed in line with Saab's Real-life Safety concept - cars must be as safe as possible in accident situations that occur in the real world. Since 1972 Saab has investigated more than 5,000 accidents involving Saabs in Sweden. Data from these investigations become the starting point when designing new Saab models. In addition to providing invaluable information regarding the real-life crash safety properties of Saab cars, this data also helps Saab engineers perform more lifelike crash tests. The Saab 9-3 has been subjected to more than 40 different crash tests, including car-to-car, car-to-truck and car-to-dummy-moose. Saab performs almost four times the number of tests mandated by government standards. As a result, the body structure of the Saab 9-3 is designed to behave in a controlled and consistent manner during a crash, regardless of the accident type. In a frontal or rear-end crash, the collision forces are absorbed by the crumple zones of the body and are then transferred to a reinforced high-strength steel safety cage that surrounds the interior. The front structure of the Saab 9-3 is specifically designed to reduce the energy and force that occurs in a head-on crash. The front chassis members are connected to the wheel arches and the engine subframe in such a manner that the forces will be well distributed over a broad area instead of being concentrated to any one point. Special reinforcements at the rear of the front wheel arches help minimize the risk of front-wheel intrusion into the interior in an offset crash. A predictable deformation behavior enables the Saab engineers to optimize the design of the seat belts, airbags, dashboard and interior details, further reducing the risk of occupant injuries in a crash.
Pendulum Effect on Side Impact
In the event of a side impact, only very narrow deformation zones are available for absorbing the crash energy. The body structure is designed mainly to distribute the impact forces over as large an area as possible. The crash energy is absorbed by the side of the car, where the door pillar is made of high-strength steel, and the reinforcements in the sill and door pillar assist in distributing the impact forces to the safety cage surrounding the interior. A safety enhancement acquired from the Saab 9-5, the door pillar of the Saab 9-3 is designed to behave as a pendulum in the event of a side collision. Because crash energy from an impact will take the path of least resistance, Saab's engineers have designed into the "B" pillar a safer path that dissipates the crash energy downward. The center section of the pillar is very stiff to prevent the pillar from deforming and intruding in the middle into the interior. The top of the "B" pillar is designed to perform as a "hinge" and retain its position when the lower half of the pillar is displaced inwards like a pendulum. As a result, it is the most robust parts of the human body (the pelvis area), rather than the weaker areas above the waist, that will be subjected to most of the crash energy. This reduces the risk of injury to the more fragile parts of the body - the rib cage, head and torso. Lateral steel gussets in the sill area and transverse chassis members in the floor under the front and rear seats prevent the car body from being compressed sideways, and help transfer the crash energy to the safety cage structure around the interior space. A new feature on the 1999 Saab 9-3 models is a ceiling headliner with additional padding in those areas where the driver's or passengers' heads might strike in the event of a crash.
Head and Torso Protecting Side Airbags
As further protection in event of a side impact, front seat head and torso protecting side airbags are included as standard equipment on all Saab 9-3 cars. Located in the outside bolster of each front seatback, to be correctly positioned regardless of the occupant's seat position, the side airbags have an air volume of 25 liters and are divided into upper and lower sections. When activated, the airbag inflates in two stages. While the top section begins gradually inflating, the bottom section is fully inflated first to protect the torso, which is the part of the occupant's body initially at risk from side-impact collision forces. The top section of the airbag then fully inflates to offer protection for the occupant's head which, at the moment of impact, is further away from the side structure of the car and thus reacts to the crash forces with a certain time delay. The entire process takes only a split second. The crash sensor triggers the gas inflator in the airbag five milliseconds (0.005 seconds) after the crash process has started. The lower part of the airbag is filled after 15 milliseconds, and the top part after 30 milliseconds. When developing the side impact protection of the Saab 9-3, Saab safety engineers used the Biofidelity Side Impact Dummy (known as the BioSID), the most sophisticated dummy available. Compared to the type of dummy stipulated by various regulatory standards around the world, BioSID has a larger number of measurement points and senses the sequence of events in a way that better simulates the way the human body reacts. In total, Saab utilizes 33 various dummies, of which BioSID is only one, ranging in size from 17 - 223 lbs. in performing crash tests on its vehicles. Two fullsize front airbags are standard on all variants of the Saab 9-3. A 60-liter driver airbag is built into the center of the steering wheel, while the 120-liter airbag for the passenger side is mounted in the dashboard above the glove compartment. The deployment force for both airbags is optimized for a belted driver and passenger.
Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR)
Real-life accident statistics show that neck injuries are one of the most common results of rear-end collisions, even at relatively low speeds. The Saab Active Head Restraint (SAHR), introduced as a world-first innovation on the Saab 9-5 and standard equipment as well on all Saab 9-3 models, effectively reduces movements of the occupant's head following a rear-end impact, thereby reducing the risk of whiplash injuries. The system is entirely mechanical and is based on the lever principle. The padded head restraint is connected to a pressure plate inside the backrest. In most rear-end crashes, the occupant's body will be pressed into the backrest first, pushing the pressure plate rearward. As a result, the head restraint will move up and forward, and will "catch" the occupant's head before the dangerous whiplash motion has started. The SAHR system is activated during rear-end collisions starting at speeds equivalent to a barrier impact of about 10 mph. The precise activation of the system is determined by the force with which the occupant's back is forced against the backrest, the magnitude of the collision forces and by the occupant's weight. Another major benefit of the mechanical SAHR system is that in most accidents it needs no repairs to restore it to operational condition after it has been activated, unlike pyrotechnic systems (including airbags). After the head restraint has reduced the movement of the neck, it reverts to its initial position and is immediately ready to operate again. As whiplash injuries usually occur in low-speed collisions in which the car may sustain only limited damage, the active head restraint does not increase the cost of the repairs needed after the crash.
Saab Chassis Philosophy - The Driver Must Be in Full Control
Saab's extensive Real-life Safety research and subsequent active-safety engineering has two primary objectives - to design the driver's environment so that the driver will find it easier to avoid incidents, and to provide the car's chassis with the properties needed to enable the driver to avoid accidents in emergency situations. The chassis of the Saab 9-3 is designed and tuned to ensure the best possible road safety by following these guidelines:
The design of the Saab 9-3 follows this safety philosophy. The car has precise steering and directional stability, it has consistent and stable behavior on braking and acceleration, and it also retains its poise in sudden maneuvers on a variety of road surfaces. All of this ensures that the driver will always be in full control of the car.