|NEWcars: 2000 Vauxhall / Opel Omega, 04 September 1999|
The previous Omega was classified as one of the safest cars in its class in the recent round of Euro-NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) crash tests, receiving top marks (four stars) as it demonstrated its high passive safety standards
Both front seats feature new active head restraints, first introduced by Saab, a General Motors sister company. In a rear impact, they significantly reduce the risk of whiplash-related injuries.
The restraints are activated by the front seat occupant's body pressing against the seat-back after a rear-end collision. Moving upwards and forwards, the restraints reduce the gap between the head and the head restraint so that the strain on the cervical vertebrae is lessened.
The mechanism is integrated into the upper front seat-back and weighs only about 1 kg . It does not impair the side airbag located lower down in the seat back or detract from occupant comfort.
Its mechanism is also fully reversible. If, for example, in a multiple collision, the passenger's body is jerked backwards and forwards several times in rapid succession, the head restraints are re-set and ready to cushion the head on every impact. They do not need to be replaced after an accident.
The head restraints are fully protective so long as they are correctly set. To ensure the correct height adjustment is maintained even in critical situations, new Omega features head restraint locks.
The head restraint height can only be adjusted after it has been tilted forward and thus disengaged. In its rearmost position - into which it would be forced in the event of an accident - it is locked at the ideal, pre-selected height.
From next spring, an airbag system will be available with seat occupancy recognition for the front passenger seat. A sensor in the seat surface detects whether the passenger seat is occupied. If it is, the front and side airbags on the passenger side are automatically activated. When the seat is empty the airbags are de-activated and will not be released in an accident.
A second sensor detects Vauxhall Fix child seats fitted with transponders. A transmitter and two receiver units are installed in the passenger seat and the transmitter activates the two transponders integrated in the child seat.
This recognises the presence of the child seat and checks that it is correctly installed. It then automatically deactivates the front and side airbags on the passenger side. A yellow LED in the interior light tells the driver that a child seat with transponder has been detected and the passenger-side airbags de-activated. This rules out any risk of the airbag inadvertently inflating during an impact.
The modular Vauxhall Fix child seat system is already available as an option for Omega and some other Vauxhall models. The "grow-along" system was developed by Vauxhall engineers and provides comprehensive protection for babies and toddlers when installed facing backwards and for children between the ages of three and twelve when installed on the outside rear seats.
The patented, sturdy plug-and-socket connections to the vehicle's back seat ensure trouble-free use as well as outstanding stability and safety.
The new Omega estate is equipped with the innovative Additional Load Intrusion Avoidance System (ALIAS) which gives greater passenger protection against loads and baggage sliding forwards in a frontal collision and significantly reduces the forward motion of the centre rear-seat passenger in this type of incident.
ALIAS consists of a locking mechanism which securely links the two folding rear seat-backs at the partitioning point to form a sturdy barrier.
A bolt at the top of the rear seat-backs makes locking and unlocking quick and easy.
LPG range to increase
Vauxhall anticipates considerable interest in the larger-engined Omega Dualfuel model as petrol and diesel prices rise while the duty on LPG is set to remain at its current levels.
For lovers of a more sporting driving style, the new-edition Omega is available with a sports chassis which provides even more agility and driving enjoyment. The body is approximately 15mm lower and the suspension features up-rated spring/shock absorber settings. The sports version of the Omega - the MV6 - is equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels and special Michelin directional sports 235/45 R 17 tyres.
The sports chassis was developed in tandem with changes made to the existing Omega chassis. Already regarded as among the best in its class, the newly-refined chassis makes best use of its Dynamic Safety characteristics (DSA) and balanced weight distribution to provide tighter cornering, exceptional roadholding and improvements in ride.
The principle behind the complex design - independent suspension with MacPherson struts at the front in combination with a multi-link rear suspension - is unchanged, but it has undergone significant detail modification.
Changes to the front-axle geometry with optimised damper and steering settings mean greater steering accuracy, optimum road-holding and neutral cornering.
The steering has a new characteristic: the servo system for the four-cylinder models provides increased power assistance which is useful at parking speeds, while the road-speed dependent Servotronic for the six-cylinder models requires less steering effort at higher speeds.
Thanks to its sophisticated elasto-kinematics, the DSA chassis demonstrates its superior self-stabilising characteristics, particularly when braking on surfaces with varying degrees of grip.
The wheel with more grip toes in to actively counteract any tendency for the car to break away or skid sideways. Without the driver taking any corrective action, Omega remains under control and holds the driving line even when, for example, the left wheels are on dry asphalt and the right wheels are on an icy surface.
Vauxhall suspension specialists have introduced an additional safety factor in the form of the Quick Power brake booster operating in conjunction with the standard electronically-controlled four-channel ABS braking system.
Sensors register the driver's braking intentions by monitoring the speed at which the brake pedal is actuated. An extra pneumatic valve builds up the system pressure to approximately 69 bar within 150 milliseconds, thus shortening the braking distance.
At 60mph the new Omega equipped with the Quick Power booster will come to a halt on average three feet sooner than the previous model. In identical conditions, conventional brake boosters only reach a system pressure of 38 bar and so have only half the Quick Power capability.
The newly designed brake booster provides more rapid response and precise brake control in everyday driving, not just in emergencies. As in the past, every model has large brake discs, ventilated at the front, making Omega an ideal towing vehicle.
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