The safest cars on sale today

Safety organisation Euro NCAP has announced ratings for five new cars. Are any of them good enough to make it on to the list of the 10 safest cars on sale?...

Genesis G80 crash test

Five more new cars have been assessed by safety organisation Euro NCAP under its latest, more stringent test regime, with four of them getting the maximum five stars, but one falling short.

Hyundai's luxury brand Genesis recently confirmed that it will start selling cars in the UK this summer, and the first two models to arrive – the G80 saloon and GV80 SUV – both received five-star safety ratings.

Aided by standard head, chest and centre airbags, the GV80 scored full points for side impact protection, with the G80 only a fraction of a point behind. Both cars performed very well for child occupant protection and driver assistance technology, although Euro NCAP noted that the GV80's pedestrian protection is some way behind the G80's.

Genesis GV80 crash test

The two other cars to receive five stars in the latest round of tests are BMW's 4 Series Coupé and 4 Series Convertible. Both models borrow heavily from the BMW 3 series executive car, which received five stars back in 2019.

However, the latest Citroën C4 – including its fully electric e-C4 sister – was described as being "firmly in four-star territory" after its performance for adult occupant protection, pedestrian protection and safety assistance failed to break the five-star threshold.

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 in a decade, it introduced a new moving barrier element to the frontal offset crash test, replacing 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, 22 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

10. Honda Jazz

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Honda Jazz 2021 front tracking

Adult occupant protection 87% Child occupant protection 83% Pedestrian protection 80% Safety Assist 76%

Total Euro NCAP score 326/400

Honda's small car impressed us with its frugal hybrid engine set-up and its practicality, and impressed in the latest safety tests too. That's thanks to its modern safety systems, which include automatic emergency braking (AEB) and – for the first time in a Jazz – a front centre airbag to stop occupants colliding with each other. The Jazz also matched the 80% the Polestar 2 scored for pedestrian protection, the highest score for this area under the latest testing regime.

Read our full Honda Jazz review >>

9. Cupra Formentor

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Cupra Formentor 2020 front tracking

Adult occupant protection 93% Child occupant protection 88% Pedestrian protection 68% Safety Assist 80%

Total Euro NCAP score 329/400

The Cupra Formentor sports SUV proves that driving fun and safety can absolutely go together. Euro NCAP praised its sophisticated safety tech, such as AEB that can detect vulnerable road users and is able to prevent or mitigate collisions when the car is turning in to a side road. The Formentor also achieved the second highest score for adult occupant protection of any car yet tested.

Toyota Yaris 2021 front

Adult occupant protection 86% Child occupant protection 81% Pedestrian protection 78% Safety Assist 85%

Total Euro NCAP score 330/400

The new Yaris was the first car to be put through Euro NCAP's tougher 2020 tests and emerged with a high score in all four areas. As well as being shaped in a way that makes it friendlier to other vehicles in the event of an accident, the addition of two central airbags helps to limit injuries to those inside the Yaris in a collision. Testers also praised Toyota's Safety Sense technology, which successfully prevented the Yaris from turning and hitting an oncoming car.

Read our full Toyota Yaris review >>

7. Seat Leon

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Seat Leon 2020 front

Adult occupant protection 92% Child occupant protection 88% Pedestrian protection 71% Safety Assist 80%

Total Euro NCAP score 331/400

It turns out that our favourite family hatchback is also one of the safest cars on the road. The latest Leon is one of the best models for protecting adults during an accident, plus it posted high scores for child and pedestrian protection. The fact that every version gets an AEB system that can recognise pedestrians and cyclists, plus lane-keeping assistance, helped it score well for safety assistance, too.

Read our full Seat Leon review >>

6. Genesis GV80

Genesis GV80 front static

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

Total Euro NCAP score 332/400

The GV80 will take on luxurious seven-seaters such as the Audi Q7 and Volvo XC90, and while we've yet to drive it, the effort that has clearly gone into ensuring it's a safe choice is encouraging. As mentioned above, 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 impressive as well.

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 >>

4. 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. 

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 ID.3. The larger SUV 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 >>

2. Genesis G80

Genesis G80 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 brother, the GV80 SUV. While its safety assist score wasn't quite as good, it's significantly better at protecting pedestrians, thanks to an active bonnet that automatically pops up to cushion them and keep them from striking the engine beneath.

1. Polestar 2

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Polestar 2 front cornering

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

Total Euro NCAP score 347/400

Polestar's aptly-named second car is a thrillingly quick electric hatchback with an exquisite interior and a decent range. It's also the safest car yet to go through the more demanding Euro NCAP tests introduced in 2020. As well as a strong rating for adult occupant protection, it scored an impressive 80% for minimising injury to vulnerable road users, thanks to the inclusion as standard of a 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 >>

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