Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen ID.5 SUVs score top marks in safety tests

Recent safety tests rate Nissan and Volkswagen’s semi-autonomous driving systems on par with luxury brands, but which other brands didn’t do so well?...

AEB crash test

The semi-autonomous driving systems offered in the Nissan Qashqai and Volkswagen ID.5 were given the highest possible rating of ‘very good’ by safety watchdog Euro NCAPin its most recent round of tests.

Semi-autonomous driving systems enable cars’ computers to take control of the accelerator, brakes and steering where it is legally permissible. However, drivers must stay alert and be able to take over as needed – for example, to perform an emergency stop or steer away from debris in the road.

The Government has yet to clarify when the use of ‘hands-off’ autonomous driving systems will become legal in the UK. This limits drivers to lower-level systems such as those tested by Euro NCAP; these require your hands to be on the wheel and for you to be ready to take control at all times.

Thatcham autonomous driving

In April 2022 the Government announced changes to the Highway Code that would allow drivers of officially verified ‘self-driving’ cars to watch films or read emails through the infotainment screen while the car is in control. At present, no cars on sale in the UK are officially regarded as completely self-driving. 

The Qashqai's ‘Propilot with Navi Link’ and the ID.5’s ‘Travel Assist’ semi-autonomous systems join those offered in the Audi Q8, BMW iX3, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes GLE as being rated as ‘very good’.

Systems are graded on a four-tier scale from ‘entry’ to ‘very good’. This is based on how effectively they can control a car under normal circumstances, and on how well they can reduce the severity of a crash when one is inevitable.

Volkswagen ID.5 2022 front

A system’s effectiveness is judged on its ability to avoid obstacles and adjust speed to follow traffic, as well as on its marketing – and whether that leads drivers into a false sense of security.

Crash mitigation systems are rated for how well they respond to technological failures (such as faulty sensors), unresponsive drivers and the effectiveness of collision avoidance systems such as automatic emergency braking.

The Qashqai and ID.5 scored 74% and 76% respectively for effectiveness. The ID.5’s system slightly beat the Qashqai's because it was capable of reducing its speed at junctions (where the Qashqai's was not), and because it was better at steering at 75mph. However, the Qashqai’s adaptive cruise control system was better at adjusting its speed for stationary and braking cars, plus it was more effective at avoiding drivers cutting in or out of traffic.

BMW iX3 in Euro NCAP driver assistance testing

The iX3 currently holds the highest score of any car tested so far for the effectiveness of its system, dubbed ‘Driving Assistant Professional’, at 83%.

Meanwhile, the Tesla Model 3’s ‘Autopilot’ system – rated as ‘moderate’ in 2020 – is the high scorer for the effectiveness of its crash mitigation, at 95%, followed by the Qashqai at 93%.

The Polestar 2’s system (‘Pilot Assist’) improved from its 2021 score of ‘moderate’ to ‘good’ thanks to a software update that enhanced its ability to steer through S-shaped bends.

In contrast, the Jaguar I-Pace’s system was given an ‘entry’ score. This was in large part because its cruise control system failed to adapt to speed limit changes, and because the car did not stop if its driver took their hands off the wheel.

Jaguar I-Pace in Euro NCAP driver assistance testing

Although Euro NCAP’s regular safety tests also assess cars’ driver assistance systems, they place a greater emphasis on accident mitigation alongside each car’s protection of occupants in crashes.

These tests of semi-autonomous driving systems are important for ensuring that buyers are aware of the limits of any car they might purchase, and in ensuring that brands market their technologies responsibly. They also provide a framework for testing the fully autonomous ‘hands-off’ systems.

So far, 20 cars’ semi-autonomous systems have been tested by Euro NCAP. Of those, six were graded ‘very good’, four ‘good’, five ‘moderate’, and five ‘entry’.

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