Tesla Model Y wins What Car? Safety Award 2023

The Tesla Model Y electric SUV is the highest scoring model in Euro NCAP crash tests, achieving the best ever score for active safety...

Tesla Model Y 2023 Safety Award winner

The Tesla Model Y has a long range between charges and a practical interior with plenty of space for a family. On top of that, this electric SUV is a very safe place to be if you’re involved in an accident. It scores extremely well for protecting occupants in a crash, and is also kitted out with superb active safety technology that should help to ensure it’s not involved in accidents in the first place.

The Model Y beat nine other high-achieving new models from a shortlist of those that scored the best in Euro NCAP tests in 2022. All 10 models were also judged on the performance of their assisted driving technology, innovative safety kit and their mass-market appeal, which enables them to have the widest impact on overall road safety. 

On the judging panel was Matthew Avery, chief research strategy officer with Thatcham Research, which is a major contributor to the Euro NCAP programme, both from a testing and protocol-development perspective.

Tesla has made some bold claims about being super safe in the past, and they're really delivering on that promise," said Avery. "In terms of the passive and active safety performance of the Tesla Model Y, there's no safer place to put your family."

Tesla Model Y front panning

The Model Y’s safety assist score of 98% is the best ever recorded in Euro NCAP tests, and its adult occupant protection score of 97% is the best achieved in 2022. It scored full points for its lane-support system and its collision avoidance driver monitoring system, which automatically changes the sensitivity of the forward collision warning system if it senses that the driver is distracted.

The car’s camera-only Vision system was praised by the judges for its performance in preventing collisions with other cars and pedestrians in Euro NCAP track tests. And Tesla’s use of over-the-air-updates gives owners the reassurance that the Model Y parked on their driveway will benefit from constantly improved vehicle features and performance. 

Smart 1 Safety Award

In second place this year is the Smart #1, a small electric SUV that the judges believe has the potential to bring high-end safety features to the mass market.

“It is designed for younger buyers and our research shows that young motorists don’t prioritise safety like older drivers with families," said Thatcham Research's Avery.

"But Smart hasn’t compromised because of that. For instance, its score of 96% for adult occupant protection is particularly impressive for a compact car with a smaller crumple zone to absorb energy during a collision."

Merc EQE Safety Award

In third place is the Mercedes EQE electric saloon, a refined, comfortable cruiser with a long range. Mercedes has a reputation for being the first brand to introduce new safety technology, and the EQE debuts its automated emergency lane control system.

If the car is being driven in assisted driving mode, the system will move the car to the left-hand lane if the driver becomes unresponsive, stopping it in a safer place than a live road lane. Current legislation allows for only limited use of this type of technology on UK roads, but experts agree that it will be central to the safe and successful adoption of automated driving technology in the future.

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