The 2019 Mini Hardtop hatchback has earned high enough marks for Top Safety Pick honors in recent crash tests and safety ratings conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, returning it to prestigious safety status after losing out in 2018 for a subpar headlight score. However, the Mini Hardtop fell short of IIHS' highest possible safety rating, Top Safety Pick Plus.
IIHS is an insurance-industry-backed nonprofit that routinely puts cars through a rigorous battery of crash tests, many of which exceed federal standards and guidelines used by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration. In total, IIHS conducts six crash tests and factors in the effectiveness of a vehicle's headlights and the ease of use of the onboard child-seat anchors, along with the availability of advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking.
The 2019 Mini Hardtop in two-door hatchback configuration registered the requisite good ratings in every one of the crash tests, including IIHS' regimen of small and moderate front overlap tests. These simulate what might happen when a car hits another object with only a portion of its front end.
The simulation mimics common accident scenarios, like what might happen if a car hits a tree, or strikes only a portion of another car that's traveling in the opposite direction. This test is especially difficult to engineer for because it places all of the impact of the crash on a smaller portion of the vehicle's crash structure rather than across the entire width of the car's front end.
A few options must be factored into the Mini to register this strong safety score, however. As tested by IIHS, the Mini two-door hatch was equipped with front crash prevention technology, including automatic emergency braking, and was fitted with optional LED headlights.
According to the IIHS crash test results, "the Mini nearly avoided a collision in the IIHS 12-mph track test. In the 25-mph test, the impact speed was reduced by an average of 7 mph." While those numbers might not sound dramatic, when it comes to a real-world crash, every mph counts toward safety and the survival of a vehicle's occupants. The results earned the system an advanced rating; vehicles must earn advanced or superior to qualify for top honors.
The Mini's available LED headlights earn an acceptable rating in terms of their overall effectiveness and light distribution. Meanwhile, the standard halogen headlamps on the Mini still register a rating of poor. The 2019 model's LED headlight score improved on the 2018 version's marginal rating for its LED headlights but still fell short of the good designation necessary for the top Plus rating.
Despite falling short of the coveted Plus designation, the 2019 Mini Hardtop stacks up well versus competitors' most recent ratings. The 2018 BMW 2 Series tied the Mini, earning identical test scores for a Top Safety Pick award. Meanwhile, the 2018 Volkswagen Golf and Fiat 500 (last rated for 2017) both fell short of a Top Safety Pick designation of any kind.
While it had not yet been tested by NHTSA, it's worth noting the 2018 Mini Hardtop scored a four-star safety rating in the government agency's testing procedures. It remains to be seen whether this small and nimble city car's recent safety improvements will help it register a five-star rating, the highest NHTSA crash-test score.
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