Britain's best safe cars
* Cars rated at five stars by What Car? * Also rated at five stars for safety by Euro NCAP * Combine star quality and top-grade safety...
What Car?’s five-star verdicts are rightly coveted, and made on the basis of us not only testing the cars on UK roads but also crunching every number and every fact, and weighting their importance for car buyers.
What if safety is your overwhelming priority, though? Worldwide safety organisation Euro NCAP tests cars that are submitted to it by manufacturers in a variety of ways. It publishes the full results, but to make them more digestible it also gives each one an overall star rating.
As a result, we’ve cross-referenced the two databases to come up with the list of What Car?’s five-star cars with five-star Euro NCAP safety ratings.
It should be noted that not all of What Car?’s five-star cars have been submitted to Euro NCAP for safety testing, so their absence from this list doesn’t necessarily imply they are not safe, just that they haven't been tested.
For the full review of each car, and to find out exactly which models in the range have been awarded our five-star rating, click on the link over the car name to read the full review.
At its best, the A1 represents all that is good about its maker in an affordable package, but you need to shop carefully on engine and trim packages because it varies in our ratings from two to five stars. Euro NCAP tested the hatchback.
Pick carefully from the range and you will get one of the best premium hatchbacks on sale today. Haggle hard and there’s good savings in excess of £1000 to be had, too. Euro NCAP tested the hatchback.
BMW 1 Series
We rate the M135i as a five-star scorer, but Euro NCAP bestows top safety honours on the entire hatchback range. We love the 1 Series for its comfort and low running costs, but wish the interior space was more generous.
BMW 3 Series
Again, you need to choose smartly to get a version rated at five-stars by What Car? The picks are from the 320d powertrain combination upwards, and all are classy, agile and comfortable as well as affordable to run. Euro NCAP tested the saloon.
BMW 5 Series
The 5 Series range is a mixed bag of the brilliant and the average, and even if you choose from the sweet spots you need to spec your car with caution to get the best from it. Get it right and there’s no finer big executive car. Euro NCAP tested the saloon.
The BMW X3 xDrive20d and 30d models are the ones on which we bestow five stars. These stand out for being spacious, classy and very good to drive, as well as economical. There are encouraging Target Price discounts available, too.
Our absolute pick of the range is the 1.0T 100 Ecoboost Zetec S/S 5dr, but there are other five-star highlights across the range. At this five-star peak, there’s no supermini that combines fun and comfort so well.
The diesels are the stand-out models in this range, with all but the slightly pricey top-trimmed all-wheel-drive versions earning a five-star rating from us. They bring very attractive running costs and combine them with good space, standard kit and performance.
Five-star ratings are spread across the range, but the two mid-range trims best blend kit and price. The Qashqai is a brilliant family car, being roomy, comfortable and affordable to run.
Just one Leon gets our five-star verdict, the three-door 1.4 TSI 140 FR. It’s a truly impressive family car that’s practical, stylish and very good to drive as well as economical to run. Euro NCAP tested the hatchback when it delivered its five-star verdict.
Stick with the lower-powered diesel in all but the top-spec trim and you have a five-star car that’s large, makes clever use of space and is also good to drive. Little wonder it’s our favourite large MPV.
The Octavia is a seriously well packaged car, proving big and classy yet being brilliant to drive. The best value is at the lower end of the range, which is also where our five-star verdicts predominate. Euro NCAP tested the hatchback
Vauxhall Zafira Tourer
There’s a mixed bag of quality across the Zafira Tourer range, meaning versions have everything from two stars to five stars. The peaks are confined to the 1.6 CDTi 136 engined models, which are economical, refined and punchy.
The 1.0 75 engined cars all receive five-star verdicts, because they deliver all-round capability in a small, well packaged vehicle. The Up’s ride is smooth and it is always refined. The interior is also eye-catching, which is a rarity in such a small, budget vehicle.
There are numerous five-star highlights throughout the Volkswagen Golf range, meaning buyers can choose from a wide variety of powertrains and trim levels and still enjoy a car that’s at the top of its class for the way it is comfy, refined and financially sound.