Euro NCAP - A safety crash test organisation established by motorsport's governing body, the FIA.
Initially, NCAP concerned itself with a 40mph (64kph) front-offset crash with a deformable barrier, awarding cars up to four stars depending on how well they protected front-seat occupants.
In the not-too-distant past, an accident such as this would often have resulted in death or serious injury. Thanks to NCAP, however, the front-end deformability of cars and the passive safety features fitted to them (airbags, better belts and softer trim) have radically improved since then, so your chances of escaping injury are better.
The maximum score is currently five stars, an accolade first achieved by the Renault Laguna and since repeated by many models such as the BMW 3 Series, Ford Focus, Renault Clio, and Vauxhall Astra.
Euro NCAP's tests have also expanded to include side impact tests, a pole impact test, child tests with ratings out of five stars and pedestrian protection trials with up to four stars on offer. The overall star rating is expected to increase to six stars in 2006 or 2007 when whiplash tests are incorporated.
Crash reports from NCAP reveal the likely injuries the occupants would suffer. Full results can be found at www.euroncap.com, but they are also published on whatcar.com.
The Euro NCAP results are not to be confused with those produced by similar organisations in America and Australia, which operate to different guidelines.
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