Side impact bars: which cars have it and which ones don’t? – UPDATED

Latin NCAP revealed the results of the crash tests performed with the Peugeot 208 produced in Brazil in June. The car did not have side impact bars, as the European version does. It was shocking. We always thought that side impact bars were an industry standard. In Brazil, the first cars to feature them had an extensive advertising about the safety items. All cars that had them mentioned that. Until nobody talked about it anymore. Just like mentioning a car comes with tires makes no sense. Little did we know that not mentioning side impact bars was a way not to say some cars did not have it. It was necessary to see which cars have these anti-intrusion bars and which ones don’t. And we did that. At least in Brazil. Coincidentally, Latin NCAP compared the 208 and the Fiat Palio last August 12. Check the images below.


It is clear that the 208 had a much bigger intrusion than the Fiat Palio. It is even possible to see, in the Palio front door, the side impact bar wrapped by the crushed body panel. All Fiat models produced in Brazil have side impact bars, by the way.

We have asked all car manufacturers that have plants in the South American country about these items last August 3. Only Ford and Volkswagen failed to answer in time for this article. In case they send us a late reply, we will update the text. In the mean time, you should ask if the car you intend to buy from these 2 companies has side impact bars or not. And avoid buying the ones that don’t.


GM (Chevrolet), Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Renault and Hyundai produce cars that come with side impact bars. One engineer even claimed these safety items only made a difference with pole crash tests, but the images from Latin NCAP make it clear that there is much less intrusion in side impacts as well.


Citroën and Peugeot have side impact bars in most of its models. But not in all of them, as the 208 shows. PSA has also taken it out of Peugeot 2008, Citroën C3, Citroën C3 Picasso and Citroën AirCross. All of the cars based on the PF1 platform. In other words, when crash tests with these models are performed, the lack of side impact bars in them tends to present the same bad results the 208 has shown.

The image below makes it very evident why it is important to have all reinforcements possible in a car body.


Compare how much room is left for the driver in the Peugeot 208 and in the Fiat Palio. In which one of them would you prefer to be after being hit sideways? Exactly.

Although we could not perform an extensive research, in all countries where we have readers, we use this as a way to remind you of the importance of carefully choosing what you drive. We have recently pointed out that cars are sheet metal origamis. And the more resistant it is, the better. Remember to take that into consideration when you buy your next car. Ask if it has climate control, infotainment etc., but do not forget to ask about side impact bars. They may have been suppressed and you will never know without asking, as we did.



Volkswagen has replied our enquiry today, August 17. All of its cars  produced in Brazil feature the side impact bars.



Gustavo Henrique Ruffo

I have been an automotive journalist since 1998 and have worked for many important Brazilian newspapers and magazines, such as the local edition of Car and Driver and Quatro Rodas, Brazilian's biggest car magazine. I have also worked for foreign websites, such as World Car Fans and won a few journalism prizes, among them three SAE Journalism Awards and the 2017 IAM RoadSmart Safety Award. I am the author of "The Traffic Cholesterol", a book about bad drivers that you can buy at Hotmart, Google Play, Amazon and Kobo.

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