Renault Zoe scores zero stars for safety

The Renault Zoe is one of 11 models assessed by Euro NCAP in its latest round of crash tests, but did any of them do well enough to make our list of the 10 safest cars on sale?...

Renault Zoe crash test Euro NCAP

Independent safety organisation Euro NCAP has given the Renault Zoe zero stars in its latest round of testing, making it only the third car ever to receive the lowest rating.  

The Zoe was originally tested in 2013, when it was awarded five stars, but Renault has removed key passive safety features from the model since then. The spec changes – which are thought to be due to the ongoing global semiconductor chip shortage and might be a temporary measure – mean the Zoe now falls far short of the safety standards achieved by most new cars.

Explaining its rating, Euro NCAP said the electric car scored poorly in the safety assist category, where its score was considerably below the average achieved by other car makers. The model also performed poorly for adult occupant protection in crash tests, including those that simulate the worst accidents.

The organisation criticised the Zoe because it is not fitted with active safety technology such as lane-departure warnings and automatic emergency braking (AEB). Those features are now available as standard on most new cars.

Renault Zoe front cornering

In response, Renault said it acknowledges the results obtained by Euro NCAP but insists the Zoe is a safe vehicle that complies with all regulatory standards, and that it is continually improving its vehicles to comply with constantly evolving standards. 

The Zoe's result wasn't the only bad news for the Renault Group in Euro NCAP’s latest round of testing, with the new Dacia Spring getting a one-star rating. It recorded poor results across all categories, including in areas of adult and child occupant protection, and was criticised for lacking many key active safety systems designed for crash avoidance.

Like Renault, Dacia responded by saying that its car is safe and complies with all European safety regulations. It also said thag it would not be fitting vehicles with extra safety features or technologies that its customers did not want to pay for just to chase Euro NCAP stars.

Other vehicles included in this latest round of testing performed much better, with the BMW iX (below), Genesis G70 and GV70, Mercedes EQSNissan QashqaiSkoda Fabia and Volkswagen Caddy all receiving five-star ratings, while the new electric Fiat 500 managed four stars.

BMW iX front tracking

Euro NCAP toughens up its testing every two years to encourage car makers to keep improving safety standards.

In 2020, in the biggest changes to tests for a decade, it introduced a new moving barrier element to the frontal offset crash test. That replaced the frontal crash test that had been used since the programme started in 1997.

The new element not only measures likely injuries for those sitting in the near and far side of the vehicle during a crash, but also evaluates how much of a risk the car’s front-end structure poses to the vehicle it hits. So far, 44 cars have been put through the new, more stringent safety testing.

Here we take a look at the top 10 performers so far.

The top 10 safest cars

=9. BMW iX

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BMW iX 2021 front

Adult occupant protection 91% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 73% Safety Assist 81%

Total Euro NCAP score 332/400

About the same size as an X5, BMW's biggest electric SUV produces a whopping 516bhp in its range-topping form – enough for 0-62mph in just 4.6sec – while its huge, 105kWh battery is good for an official range of 392 miles. Safety highlights include a centre airbag to stop front-seat occupants bashing their heads together in a side impact.

Read our full BMW iX review >>

=9. Genesis GV80

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Genesis GV80 2021 front right tracking

Adult occupant protection 91% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 66% Safety Assist 88%

Total Euro NCAP score 332/400

The GV80 takes on luxurious seven-seaters such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90, and the South Korean luxury car brand has put a lot of effort into ensuring its flagship model is a safe choice. The presence of standard head, chest and centre airbags helped it to secure full points for side impact protection, while its child occupant protection and driver assistance technology scores were also impressive.

Read our full Genesis GV80 review >>

8. Volkswagen ID.3

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Volkswagen ID.3 2021 wide cornering

Adult occupant protection 87% Child occupant protection 89% Pedestrian protection 71% Safety Assist 88%

Total Euro NCAP score 335/400

The ID.3 is Volkswagen's new fully electric family hatchback, and it scores well with both us and Euro NCAP. The crash testers praised the car's tough structure and restraints for how well they protect occupants in an accident, and the fact that all models have AEB, an advanced e-Call system and technology that applies the car's brakes after an accident.

Read our full Volkswagen ID.3 review >>

7. Skoda Enyaq

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Skoda Enyaq 2021 front

Adult occupant protection 94% Child occupant protection 89% Pedestrian protection 71% Safety Assist 82%

Total Euro NCAP score 336/400

Although it's very similar under the skin to the Volkswagen ID.4, the Enyaq doesn't manage quite such a strong performance for safety. It's just as proficient at protecting its occupants, but drops five percentage points for protecting vulnerable road users and its active safety systems score slightly lower. That said, it's still one of the safest new cars you can buy, gaining an impressively high Euro NCAP overall test score. 

Read our full Skoda Enyaq review >>

=5 Mercedes EQS

Mercedes EQS 450 front

Adult occupant protection 96% Child occupant protection 91% Pedestrian protection 76% Safety Assist 80%

Total Euro NCAP score 343/400

The EQS is an electric luxury limousine that gives those who want to go green an alternative to the existing Mercedes S-Class. It can manage up to 478 miles between charges, while Euro NCAP awarded it the highest adult occupant protection score of any car tested in 2021, along with a very strong rating for child occupant protection.

Volkswagen ID.4 2021 front

Adult occupant protection 93% Child occupant protection 89% Pedestrian protection 76% Safety Assist 85%

Total Euro NCAP score 343/400

The ID.4 is the second model in Volkswagen's new pure-electric line-up, following on from the smaller ID.3. The larger car is more practical for families and performed even better than its sibling in crash tests. As well as a robust structure that protects both the occupants and the battery pack well, the ID.4 comes with a full suite of airbags, including a front centre one that mitigates injuries in side impacts. It is also fitted with a local hazard warning system as standard.

Read our full Volkswagen ID.4 review >>

4. Genesis G80

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Genesis G80 2021 above front static

Adult occupant protection 91% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 77% Safety Assist 91%

Total Euro NCAP score 346/400

The G80 matches the excellent adult occupant and child occupant protection scores of its bigger stablemate, the GV80 SUV. While its safety assist score wasn't quite as good, it is significantly better at protecting pedestrians because it has an active bonnet that automatically pops up to cushion them and stop them striking the engine.

Read our full Genesis G80 review >>

=2. Nissan Qashqai

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Nissan Qashqai 2021 front

Adult occupant protection 91% Child occupant protection 91% Pedestrian protection 70% Safety Assist 95%

Total Euro NCAP score 347/400

Another high scorer with Euro NCAP, the Qashqai achieved a Safety Assist rating of 95%, with this equalled only by the Subaru Outback, which was tested in September 2021. We reckon the middle of the range is where the best value lies, because the cheaper trims (especially Visia) are stingily equipped and range-topping models are rather pricey.

Polestar 2 front

Adult occupant protection 92% Child occupant protection 89% Pedestrian protection 80% Safety Assist 86%

Total Euro NCAP score 347/400

Polestar's second car is a thrillingly quick electric hatchback with a plush interior and a decent range. As well as a strong rating for adult occupant protection, it scored an impressive 80% for minimising injury to vulnerable road users thanks to its standard pop-up bonnet. It was also praised for the high level of its active safety systems and the fact that it gives owners the ability to make their car even safer in the future with over-the-air software updates. 

Read our full Polestar 2 review >>

1. Subaru Outback

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Subaru Outback 2021 front cornering

Adult occupant protection 88% Child occupant protection 89% Pedestrian protection 84% Safety Assist 95%

Total Euro NCAP score 356/400

If you're looking for genuine all-weather abilities, a hugely practical interior and tonnes of safety technology, the Outback is definitely worth considering. Indeed, the list of kit that it comes with includes AEB, lane-keeping assistance, traffic sign recognition, blindspot monitoring and a rear cross-traffic alert system to warn of objects crossing your path while backing up. All of this helped it to the highest overall Euro NCAP score of any car tested since the latest, toughened up testing regime was introduced.

Read our full Subaru Outback review >>

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