Euro NCAP has released results for six new models, five of which have gained the maximum five-star rating. The other three top performers are the new Ford B-Max, the Kia Ceed, and the latest Renault Clio.
The Volvo V40 scored a record 98% for adult protection, while it achieved a score of 88% for pedestrian protection thanks to a standard pedestrian airbag, which lifts the bonnet and expands to partly cover the windscreen pillars.
The Ford B-Max scored 92% for adult protection, and was praised for its system that negates the need for central side pillars. Instead, the strength is built into the doors.
A maximum five-star rating means that the new Audi A3 scores one better than the model it replaces.
The Audi A3, Kia Ceed and Renault Clio were all praised for improvements made to pedestrian protection.
'While in the past three years Euro NCAP has increased the requirements, the vehicle manufacturers have stepped up to the challenge,' said Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP's secretary general.
'The scores observed today were unthinkable just a few years ago.'
The sixth vehicle tested was the Isuzu D-Max pick-up, which scored four out of five. This is a big improvement on the previous model's two-star struck-through rating, which meant there was an 'unacceptably high risk of life-threatening injury.'