The Vigor unit body represents the latest developments in structural design and technology. The design of the chassis and exterior panels involved the use of NASA's NASTRAN Computer Aided Design process. The use of this system allowed the engineers to design a structure with the highest rigidity but at the same time control the overall weight of the vehicle. The construction of the body includes a number of innovations and technology features such as the honeycomb floorpan and headliner.
RADIUSED FRONT FRAME RAILS
The forward-wheel design afforded by the longitudinal engine placement has allowed the creation of a unique front frame rail design. The front frame rails are radiused as they meet the front bulkhead. This design imparts high torsional and bending rigidity to the body and also maximizes front impact protection by dissipating the loads over a wider area and by directing the load downward toward the floorpan.
HONEYCOMB FLOOR STRUCTURE
Instead of a conventional steel stamping for the floorpan, the Vigor floorpan uses an 18mm thick honeycomb sandwich. It consists of a resin-impregnated honeycomb material trapped between two layers of zinc-coated steel. This structure imparts considerable strength to the floorpan. In addition to maximizing rigidity, the honeycomb material also serves to block out noise and vibration.
The same concept was used for strength in the roof and to reduce the noise level in the cabin. The roof uses a similar impregnated resin material, and is sandwiched between two layers of resin felt. The honeycomb roof structure is only used on models that are not equipped with a sunroof.
PERIMETER ROOF RAIL
A new perimeter roof rail system was designed to maximize the structural rigidity of the roof. The rail securely ties together the six body pillars and serves to help resist torsional forces imposed on the body such as those encountered when only one wheel encounters a bump. This improves handling precision, as well as reducing the possibility of squeaks and rattles.
To ensure maximum corrosion protection, 90% of the Vigor panels are galvanized (zinc-coated). Most panels are galvanized on both sides. A special anti-chipping primer is applied in key lower areas of the body, where paint chipping is most likely to appear. Also, a plastic sheet is installed at the leading edge of these areas to further resist damage from stones or debris. To resist the possibility of rust forming in hollow body cavities, such as the rocker panels, a special anti-corrosion wax is injected during the assembly process.
PAINT AND FINISH
From bare metal body to the final inspection stage, the Vigor undergoes a careful 23-step, 3-coat, 3-bake painting process to help ensure a smooth, flawless finish.
In order to provide a quieter cabin environment, the Vigor has received a number of noise-reducing improvements. Additional sound-absorbing insulation material has been added to the rear floor area, wheel wells, parcel shelf, bulkhead and spare wheel well. Even the tires have been re-engineered to reduce road noise.