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Car of the Year Awards 2021: Safety Award

In 2020, the biggest change to the official Euro NCAP crash tests in 23 years occurred, making it much harder to get a five-star rating. But are winner is the car that performed best of all...

WINNER: Safety Award

Volkswagen ID.3

Car of the Year Safety Award Sponsor Logo

The Volkswagen ID.3 is the first of a whole range of pure electric vehicles being introduced by Volkswagen, so the fact that it’s been designed with a very safe structure that protects its occupants well and keeps the batteries secure in crash tests is a positive sign for future road safety.

As well as gaining the highest overall score of all the cars tested under 2020’s new, stricter test regime, the ID.3 was the year’s top scorer in the area of safety assist.

Volkswagen ID.3 front cornering

That’s an umbrella term for the suite of active safety systems that help to prevent accidents from happening in the first place. They include automatic emergency braking (AEB), which is standard on the ID.3 and is capable of averting accidents in a range of situations, including when the ID.3 is approaching other cars or turning across the path of an oncoming vehicle. AEB also helps drivers avoid cyclists and pedestrians to the side and in front of the car.

The ID.3 performed well in the new mobile progressive deformable barrier crash test, too, providing good protection to its occupants and being fairly benign in the damage it caused to the oncoming vehicle.

A centre front airbag is standard on the ID.3, preventing the two front seat passengers from hitting each other during a side-on collision and helping the model to gain a high score in this crash test.

2nd - Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris 2021 front

The Yaris is very safe for such an affordable car. It gained high scores not only for protecting its occupants in a crash but also in the safety assist category, because it comes as standard with an AEB system that can detect and avoid vulnerable road users and can prevent a collision with a car that’s turning across its path.

It also has a driver monitoring system that uses both a camera and steering input data to assess whether the driver is alert and focusing on the road ahead; this is more effective than systems without cameras.

3rd - Seat Leon

2020 Seat Leon front action

Another affordable model, the new Leon gained the highest adult occupant protection score of 2020. It performed well in the new MPDB test, protecting those inside it and not causing much damage to the oncoming vehicle. The Leon is also fitted with a front centre airbag that shielded both front seat occupants in the side crash test.

Like the Volkswagen ID.3, the Leon has a new multi-collision braking system that automatically applies the brakes after a collision to prevent it from crashing into other vehicles.

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