The new BMW 3 Series and Mazda CX-5 SUV have gained Euro NCAP's maximum five-star crash-test rating.
Five-star ratings were also awarded to the Hyundai i30 and the all-new Peugeot 208 supermini.
Euro NCAP said the results showed that manufacturers are rising to the challenges set by its stricter testing programme. The safety organisation highlighted a particular improvement in pedestrian safety.
The BMW 3 Series was by far the best in this area – despite not having an active bonnet that rises slightly to cushion an impact – with a score of 78%. However, the Peugeot only just cleared the 60% five-star pedestrian protection threshold with 61%, while the Hyundai scored 67% and the Mazda 64%.
Euro NCAP also singled out the Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems on the BMW and the Mazda. This technology autonomously applies the vehicle's brakes if onboard computers sense that a collision is likely.
Dr Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP said: 'If all cars were fitted with AEB systems, many crashes could be mitigated or avoided altogether.'
NCAP announced it intends to incorporate testing such systems into future crash-assessment procedures.
The examiners also revealed that Audi has received the Euro NCAP Advanced reward for its ‘Pre Sense front plus' technology – available on the new Audi A6 – which detects cars in front through a series of radar sensors. It then acts to lessen the impact or prevent accidents where necessary.
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