RAC Cars News


Britain's Safest New Cars

By raccars Published

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Car buyers work from a number of different priorities - budget, performance, badge prestige and comfort, for example, but safety appears surprisingly seldom at the top of the list. However, there are huge discrepancies in the performance of newly released cars undergoing crash testing, according to the results of standardised tests by Euro NCAP. The independent organisation's latest round of crash testing pinpointed the safest new cars on sale in Britain today.

All manufacturers are aiming for five stars. There was a time when smaller cars rarely achieved the high score but changes to the way new cars are built, and to the crash testing process, have seen small cars score as well for safety as larger cars. However, Euro NCAP does take into account the development of new safety technology and changes in the way we drive and use our cars, and the current testing syllabus is the strictest yet.

Volvo's highly anticipated second generation XC90 SUV performed predictably well, scoring an amazing 100% in the safety assistance features category and leading the field in adult occupant protection, at 97%. In fact only pedestrian protection saw the Volvo XC90 fail to make the top ten for the past 12 months but, overall, the SUV is Euro NCAP's current best performer. Five stars were earned by the Audi Q7 - the SUV's large size, eight airbags and Quattro all-wheel drive system mean occupants are clearly going to be well protected but its pedestrian safety rating lagged behind a number of other cars recently tested. Renault's new Kadjar crossover also did well. There's less space age technology on board but it protects both car occupants and pedestrians well in the event of a collision.

The Ford Galaxy cemented its reputation as an excellent family seven seater with a five star score and was particularly impressive in the child occupant protection category. The slightly smaller and sportier Ford S-Max wasn't given an individual test but was given the same default score as the Galaxy, being heavily based upon the larger MPV. However, both lagged slightly behind the VW Touran, which was consistently accomplished in all four categories.

The Toyota Avensis estate outperformed its humble image to come second overall just behind the Volvo, with solid performance across the board and 93% for the adult occupancy protection category. The new Suzuki Vitara, Skoda Superb and Renault Espace all also achieved the desired five stars, while the Skoda, along with the Audi Q7, was given 'advanced rewards,' a special commendation for extra safety features which have not yet been included in Euro NCAP's standard testing procedure, but which are expected to provide tangible safety benefits.

However, Mazda is likely to be extremely disappointed by the performance of two of its cars, the Mazda2 supermini and the CX-3 crossover, both of which could only manage a four star rating. Both were actually very good in the pedestrian protection category but let down by a lack of assistance features and by child occupant protection.

Fiat's 500X, a jacked up version of the funky city car, also lost out on a fifth star with similarly poor scoring in the safety assistance category. Pedestrian protection was also on the low side but higher scores on the child protection category put it above the Mazdas in overall scoring. The Fiat Panda Cross was one of the lowest scoring cars in the latest round of testing, managing only three stars, mostly due to poor performance in the safety assistance and pedestrian protection categories once again.

The Hyundai i20 scored four stars, held back by lower scores for safety assistance and child protection, which also applies to the Audi TT, redeemed only a little by 82% in the pedestrian protection category.

The lowest scorers overall were the Renault Trafic and Vauxhall Vivaro vans, which surprisingly did excel in the child protection category with 91%, compared to below 60% in the other three categories.

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