What Car? and Thatcham Research Centre will unveil the safest car launched this year at its annual Car of the Year Awards ceremony in January 2015.
The brand new Safety Award will only be open to vehicles which have achieved five Euro NCAP stars, come fitted with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), and are available for consumers to buy in the UK as of January 7, 2015.
Award contenders will also be assessed against a number of stringent safety factors from the Euro NCAP breakdown, including Adult Occupant Protection, Safety Assist, Euro NCAP breakdown and Child Occupant Protection.
The potential challengers include the Tesla Model S, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Nissan Qashqai, and VW Golf Sportsvan. See the full list below.
The top three cars will be selected by Thatcham Research Centre and an independent panel of safety experts, before being announced at the What Car? Car of the Year Awards in London on Wednesday, January 7.
What Car? editor Jim Holder said: 'When people are looking to buy a car, there are certain requirements that they will automatically have in their minds. Among the foremost of these is safety, especially if they are planning to use the vehicle to transport their family.
'We felt it was only right that such an important consideration in the car-buying process is reflected in our Car of the Year Awards.
'It will also be a chance for us to celebrate and applaud the work that manufacturers do and the lengths they go to in order to make sure that the cars we drive keep us as safe as possible.'
Matthew Avery, Director of Safety at Thatcham Research Centre, added: 'We are delighted to support this new, important award category. Our research on new vehicles, carried out on behalf of our motor insurer members, is increasingly focusing on safety features. We have led the testing protocols for systems such as AEB and we are already seeing significantly reduced accident rates on UK roads as a result.
'The synergy between improved safety and the reduced cost to insure is also now being reflected by lower premiums emerging for safer cars, making it an increasingly significant factor for car buyers.'
The cars in contention for the award are as follows:
Five-star shortlisted vehicles
In contention – vehicles whose star rating is yet to be made public