The safest cars on sale today

Safety body Euro NCAP has just revealed its latest crash test results. So which models excelled, which disappointed, and do any new models break into our list of the top 10 safest cars on sale?...

Toyota Yaris crash test

The new Toyota Yaris was the first car to have been tested under the more stringent 2020 Euro NCAP protocol, which includes a frontal offset crash test that aims to assess how well both front-seat occupants are protected in a side-on collision.

The Yaris is one of the first cars to be fitted with airbags in between the front seats, designed to help to prevent the driver and passenger from hitting their heads together as a result of an impact. This feature helped it gain a score of 15 out of 16 in lateral crash tests. 

Toyota Yaris crash test

The Toyota also scored well for minimising the damage it would cause to another vehicle in a crash, thanks to its small size and benign front end structure. It is also fitted with the latest crash avoidance technology: its Toyota Safety Sense system can now stop the car from turning into the path of an oncoming vehicle. All of these safety attributes helped the Yaris gain a full five-star Euro NCAP safety rating. 

Among other recent results, Audi's e-tron Sportback variant shares its stablemate’s 2019 five-star rating, and the hybrid version of the Renault Clio is also added to the list of 2019-rated vehicles, with similar performance to the combustion-engined car tested last year.

In the 2019 tests, the all-new Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Juke were both awarded five stars by Euro NCAP. In particular, the Golf was praised for standard-fit safety systems, including automatic emergency braking with pedestrian and cyclist detection, as well as lane-keeping assistance. The Golf's Car2X system, which allows connected cars to be warned about upcoming hazards such as traffic jams and breakdowns, was also commended. 

The same round of tests also saw the Ford Puma, MG ZS EV, MG HS and Audi Q8 SUVs achieve the highest five-star rating, However, the Volkswagen e-Up was awarded three stars. The electric Up has good levels of passive safety, but scores poorly because of the decision by Volkswagen to withdraw its automatic emergency braking system from the equipment list.   

The Chinese-made Aiways U5 SUV also scored a three-star rating because it had poor passive and active safety technology. It's the first car by the new Chinese brand to be tested by Euro NCAP and the company has said it will take onboard the criticisms highlighted by the tests and will aim to improve the car. 

Of the 53 models that Euro NCAP has tested in 2019 and 2020, 46 have earned the full five-star safety rating. Among them are such diverse vehicles as the Audi A1 Sportback small hatchback, BMW Z4 sports car and Tesla Model 3 electric executive car.

However, while Euro NCAP has stated that cars have never been safer, there are still big differences between the very best and worst performers. So, below we count down the cars with the 11 best scores – and reveal the models that received one star or less.

Audi Q3

Adult occupant protection 95% Child occupant protection 86% Pedestrian protection 66% Safety Assist 85%

Total Euro NCAP score 342/400

Until recently, the Audi Q3 had the highest Safety Assist score of any car tested under Euro NCAP's latest criteria. The list of systems that are standard includes blindspot monitoring and a lane-keeping system that can steer the car back into its original lane to prevent a head-on collision.

Read our full Audi Q3 review >>

=10. Mazda CX-30

Save money on a new Mazda CX-30 with What Car? >>

Mazda CX-30 2019 front cornering

Adult occupant protection 99% Child occupant protection 86% Pedestrian protection 80% Safety Assist 77%

Total Euro NCAP score 342/400

The CX-30 fits neatly between Mazda's other two SUVs, the small CX-3 and larger CX-5. It feels as luxurious as rivals from premium brands, but costs significantly less. It comes with an impressive array of safety kit as standard, including automatic emergency braking (AEB), blindspot monitoring, lane departure warning with lane-keeping assistance, a rear cross-traffic alert system (to warn of traffic in your path when reversing into a road) and a driver attention alert system.

Read our full Mazda CX-30 review >>

=10. Toyota RAV4

Save money on a new Toyota RAV4 with What Car? >>

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Adult occupant protection 93% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 85% Safety Assist 77%

Total Euro NCAP score 342/400

Large SUVs are all gas-guzzling planet polluters, right? Well, not the Toyota RAV4, because thanks to hybrid power, it pumps out less CO2 than a 1.0-litre Ford Fiesta. The RAV4 comes with automatic emergency braking, including pedestrian and cyclist detection, as standard, as well as lane-keeping assistance.

Read our full Toyota RAV4 review >>

=10. Toyota Corolla

Save money on a new Toyota Corolla with What Car? >>

Toyota Corolla

Adult occupant protection 95% Child occupant protection 84% Pedestrian protection 86% Safety Assist 77%

Total Euro NCAP score 342/400

As good as the latest RAV4 is, we reckon it's Toyota's family hatchback, the Corolla, that's the best hybrid currently on sale. Although the Corolla matches the RAV4 on its overall score, it betters its larger sibling in terms of adult occupant protection and pedestrian protection.

Read our full Toyota Corolla review >>

Next: more of the safest cars >

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