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Watch: You Don’t Want To Drive Hyundai HB20 After Bad Crash Tests

The replacement for the Hyundai HB20 failed crash tests after scoring high for the previous version. These Hyundai subcompacts are a low-cost model that is built for the Brazilian market. HB stands for “Hyundai Brazil,” with the “20” standing for a B segment car. Converting to American dollars it would sell here for under $17,000. The official Brazilian automotive testing known as Latin NCAP or New Car Assessment Program performed tests on the new Hyundai. After scoring so poorly you don’t want to drive the Hyundai HB20. 

The HB20 is Brazil’s third best-selling car so it was important for Hyundai to get this right. It sold 101,590 HB20 hatchbacks last year. Scoring a “four-star” crash rating for the previous model out of five, the replacement only got a “one-star” rating. What is puzzling is that according to Latin NCAP they couldn’t see any differences in the construction of the two cars. 

“Safety systems should not show such variations from test to test”

Hyundai HB20 for Brazilian market | Hyundai

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But according to the Latin NCAP’s Secretary-General, Alejandro Furas, they “noticed a different deceleration pulse under the same testing conditions and slightly different behavior of the internal door panel during the crash”. He also added that “safety systems should not show such variations from test to test. It raises serious questions about Hyundai’s side impact protection strategy for the HB20.”

“The result of the audit test shows that the model offered lower protection on the adult occupant’s chest than in the original test. It narrowly exceeded the maximum biomechanical limits allowed for the body in the side impact test,” Latin NCAP reported, It added it has the right to conduct these tests at any time.

NCAP asked Hyundai for a response as well as to look into immediate improvements. Since the Chevy Onix is a direct competitor to the HB20 and has five-star protection NCAP suggested it behooves Hyundai to fix the problem. The Onix also comes standard with ESC, pedestrian protection, and six airbags. So it looks like Chevy has made strides in standard safety features.

This second-generation HB20 which Hyundai supplied initially received a four-star safety rating

Hyundai HB20 for Brazilian market | Hyundai

When first tested by the NCAP this second-generation HB20 which Hyundai supplied received a four-star safety rating. But the most recent testing was done with an HB20 purchased from a dealership. So there is some question as to whether Hyundai modified the HB20 it supplied to NCAP to achieve a respectable crash rating. 

Because there are fewer regulations in Latin American countries there have been accusations that some safety features don’t get installed on cars sold there. The practice is said to be done to save a few bucks for the manufacturers. That is one reason why the Latin NCAP was formed. It wanted to be able to independently test cars just like the ones consumers might purchase. Some cars were showing up on dealer lots without side-impact door beams, and inferior metal being used throughout the car that is not to the manufacturer’s listed specs. Who knew?

Hyundai HB20 interior for Brazilian market | Hyundai