Euro NCAP tests explained - Introduction

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Safety-conscious buyers can now check out a car's Euro NCAP safety score on whatcar.com.

You can find the car's rating on each car review.

All about the tests
Since its inception in 1997, Euro NCAP has evolved and refined its tests, as well as encouraged manufacturers to raise their standards and urged motorists to choose safer cars.

Although the group is widely credited with increasing awareness and standards of car safety, it has also been criticised for pushing manufacturers to focus on making cars that perform in NCAP's specific crash tests, rather than building cars that are strong in all types of accidents.

Euro NCAP counters this by saying that its tests are specifically aimed at replicating the most common accidents that result in death or serious injury.

How the scoring system works
The organisation awards star ratings in three areas: adult occupant protection, child occupant protection and pedestrian protection.

Five stars is the highest possible rating, and one is the lowest - although Euro NCAP will sometimes 'strike' a star 'through' if it deems that the car has failed a particular part of a test, even though it may have scored enough points to warrant a star based on its all-round safety achievements.

With many cars now achieving five-star ratings, car buyers should check points scores as well as star ratings, because even Euro NCAP insiders admit that the difference between a four-star car that has scored 32 points is not significantly different to a five-star car with 33 points.

However, although the vast majority of cars are tested, manufacturers are not obliged to submit them to Euro NCAP and, as a result, not all cars are rated.

Euro NCAP tests explained - Front impact test

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