Credit: Tekniikan Maailma magazine
Left rear passenger belt came undone during Finnish magazine’s high-speed lane-change tests of the Arona, Ibiza and Polo
A seatbelt issue that can leave a rear passenger unbuckled during a high-speed manoeuvre has been identified in the Seat Arona, Seat Ibiza and Volkswagen Polo, and VW has now advised that owners of the affected cars do not use the middle rear seat until a recall is issued.
Finnish automotive magazine Tekniikan Maailma found that the left rear buckle in the three models, which are based on the VW Group’s MQB underpinnings, was released when the cars were carrying five people.
A VW spokesman has confirmed to Autocar that it is aware of the issue and said the brand «will provide a technical solution shortly and recall the vehicles concerned».
The problem appears to relate to the location of the middle buckle, which is mounted slightly higher than the one to its left. During a high-speed lane change to the left, the weight of the left passenger pushes the left buckle onto the right buckle at an angle that presses its release button (see illustration below).
Tekniikan Maailma said this happened on numerous occasions in each identified model. It tested two Aronas in order to confirm that the issue wasn’t isolated to those particular test cars and said the problem wasn’t found in previous tests because they were not conducted with five passengers aboard.
“According to our judgement, the unlatching is caused by a design fault,” Tekniikan Maailma said in a statement. “The easiest fix for the problem would be either to shorten or lengthen the attaching belt of the middle buckle by a couple of centimetres.”
VW’s spokesman told Autocar that its recall will be «carried out in co-operation with the national vehicle registration authorities, who also approve the safety recall measures.
«As an immediate action, we will inform customers and advise not to have passengers use the middle rear seat of current Polo models (Mk6) until the cars have been equipped with the redesigned belt lock fixture.»
Seat has also confirmed that it has found the same issue during new tests of the Arona and Ibiza. A spokesman for the brand said: “We’re working on possible solutions for it and will inform you about the final decision as soon as possible.”