Death Wish? Buy a Brilliance BS6

By Chris Haak


Last week, photos and video started circulating online of the horrific crash test results of the Chinese Brilliance BS6 sedan. The car was tested using the well-recognized Euro-NCAP (New Car Assessment Program) offset frontal crash test at 40 miles per hour by ADAC, a German auto club.

In cars that ace these tests, the passenger compartment stays almost completely intact with no intrusion of the floor into the driver’s footwell or the instrument panel into the driver’s face. The best cars often still have functioning driver’s doors, yet sacrifice so much of their front end absorbing the crash energy that the occupants get out of the car relatively unscathed.

Instead, the poorly-named Brilliance BS6 saw the pedals intrude into the driver’s space by 18 inches, and the dashboard by 7 inches. The driver’s door wouldn’t open without the technicians using a huge crowbar, and the rocker panel bent almost 90 degrees, stopped only when it hit the floor. The base of the windshield moved to the same vertical plane as the top of the windshield was before the crash, and the driver was left sharing space with steering wheels, windshields, and the front end of the car. He or she would have almost certainly been killed instantly.

ADAC also tested another BS6 for side impact protection (this is also in the video linked above). In this test, the side impact cart intruded past the width of the door into the passenger compartment (over 12 inches) and whipped the driver’s head so severely that he would have almost certainly been killed.

Naturally, the car earned the minimum rating, one star, on a five-star scale.

If you’re keeping score at home, Chinese vehicles undergoing western crash tests have both failed miserably (the earlier being the Landwind SUV, which fared so poorly it was withdrawn from the European market).

So far, the Luxembourg-based distributor for the BS6, HSO Motors, has sold 350 of the €19,000 cars, and has said that dealers should offer to repurchase the cars from owners who are concerned about its crashworthiness. However, one dealer quoted in Automotive News said, “For price-conscious customers who are careful drivers, this safety issue does not have priority.” He also said that he would continue selling the car.

Great – so if you’re sure you won’t be in an accident, you’re OK in a Brilliance. But I always thought that most accidents sort of happened, you know, accidentally. I’ve been in two of them in 16 years of driving, and I didn’t plan them ahead of time. I really didn’t expect them to happen, frankly. Sometimes, they’re unavoidable.

For its part, the manufacturer doesn’t believe that the poor crash test results will hurt sales. The company also accused the German media of “viciously playing up” the ADAC test results. Brilliance also said that they agreed to cooperate with ADAC on the BS6’s safety, and expect the car to earn three stars within a year. Brilliance also would like to find a partner to help it crack the US market, and said in April that it would like to sell cars in the US, including the BS6, no later than early 2008.

Personally, I don’t plan to set foot in a Chinese car that will be moving (I’d feel reasonably safe in one in a static display at an auto show) until I’m convinced that the safety of these vehicles has improved to modern standards. I’d take a good used car – or a new Renault/Dacia Logan/Nissan Aprio – any day over a Chinese car with questionable occupant protection capabilities. But, if you have a death wish, you can always buy one of these and drive into an offset barrier at 40 miles per hour. You won’t be around to tell us about it.

COPYRIGHT – All Rights Reserved

Author: Chris Haak

Chris is Autosavant's Managing Editor. He has a lifelong love of everything automotive, having grown up as the son of a car dealer. A married father of two sons, Chris is also in the process of indoctrinating them into the world of cars and trucks.

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  1. There’s no way this car could pass the test crash standards here in America, so I don’t see how they plan on selling them here. This car has a much lower rating in the EU test than a Honda Jazz or a Ford Focus or a Peugeot 206, which are all small cars sold in Europe. The Peugeot isn’t sold here, but the Honda Jazz is, as the Fit, and of course, the Ford Focus has been sold here for sometime. No way the feds will let the Brilliance BS6 be sold here with that kind of crash test.

  2. Here in Europe a big dealer in Belgium announced this morning that he would stop selling the car. He said the car was “not fit for Europe”.

  3. This car is a deathtrap. My 1997 VW Golf is much safer than this car and it’s a small car. I can’t understand how the Chinese get away with all of this sub-standard product; tires, food, children’s toys, the list goes on. It really makes me look very closely at everything I buy.

  4. Scary.

  5. What I can’t understand is that will all the hoops all the car companies have to jump through in the EU with pedestrian safety, emissions, crash tests, rollover, etc., how this car was even allowed to be sold in the first instance! How did Brilliance get a free pass on the BS6?

  6. Who is willing to take a guess about when a Chinese car will get a 4 or a 5-star rating in the U.S. crash tests? My guess is model year 2009.

  7. dua, is the implication that the Chinese are fast learners, or that the US crash tests are easier?

    I’d bet that it will take at least five model years before we see 4 and 5 stars from Chinese cars. Maybe less if the cars are engineered in Europe, the US, Japan, or Korea and built to those specs in China.

  8. This car seems like a very dangerous car to be in if you have an accident. I have to guess that China does not have crash test standards. Why would the American goverment let a car like this be sold here? Beside the possible loss of life, it seems like the car would be totaled by the insurance company if you got in even an accident where you were driving slow. Who would buy such a car?

  9. There is no way the U.S. government will allow a car like this to be sold here. The crash tests are in force to protect people against companies like this.

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