The safest cars on sale today

The Tesla Model Y breezed through the Euro NCAP safety tests. But did any of the other models in the latest round do well enough to make it onto our list of the 10 safest cars on sale?...

Tesla Model Y crash test

The Tesla Model Y electric SUV has been awarded five stars for safety in the latest round of crash tests carried out by Euro NCAP.

In total, five models were tested, and all bar one of them achieved the top five-star rating. The Genesis GV60 electric SUV, Ora Funky Cat small electric car and Wey Coffee 01 plug-in hybrid, which is not currently planned to go on sale in the UK, all gained the highest score. The other model tested, the Kia Niro, only gained four stars in standard specification, but it got five stars with the optional safety pack added.

Tesla’s large SUV achieved the highest scores to date for its ability to protect adult passengers (97%), and for its ability to actively help the driver avoid or reduce the severity of a crash (98%). In the latter category, it scored full marks for the performance of its lane support and new interior camera-based driver monitoring systems.

“The Model Y has aced testing, and it now sets the standard for emergency safety system performance. However, it’s a shame that unresolved issues remain with regard to the safe operation of its Autopilot [assisted driving] system,” commented Matthew Avery, chief research strategy officer from Thatcham Research, which undertakes NCAP testing in the UK.

With a score of 93% for its autonomous emergency safety assistance systems and 92% for adult occupant protection, the Ora Funky Cat demonstrates that Chinese brands are now not far behind the best performers when it comes to safety.

The GV60 performed also well across the board, gaining high scores for child and adult occupant protection and its autonomous emergency safety systems.

2022 Kia EV6 in Euro NCAP crash test

Other models that have achieved five-star ratings this year include the Kia EV6 electric SUV, which is What Car?'s 2022 Car of the Year, the Mercedes C-Class executive car, Volkswagen Multivan MPV and Volvo C40 electric SUV.

Euro NCAP tests are carried out against a backdrop of constant improvements in safety standards. In July 2022, new vehicle safety legislation will come into force to make automatic emergency braking (AEB), speed assistance and other safety systems compulsory on all new vehicles.

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

The most recent update in 2020 brought about the biggest changes to the tests for a decade. It introduced a new moving barrier element to the frontal offset crash test. This 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.

Other updates in 2020 included a new side impact test (with stronger mass) to the passenger side to assess passenger movement and injury, as well as new scenarios to test AEB systems. 

So far, 62 cars have been put through the new, more stringent safety tests.

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

The top 10 safest cars

 

=8. Mercedes EQS

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Mercedes EQS 2022 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.

Read our full Mercedes EQS review >>


=8. Volkswagen ID.5

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Volkswagen ID.5 2022 front

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

Total Euro NCAP score 343/400

The Volkswagen ID.5 is essentially a sleeker-looking sibling to the Volkswagen ID.4 electric SUV, and under the skin they are very similar, with an almost identical interior and the same 77kWh battery. This particularly shows with their safety: both cars achieved the same score. 

Read our full Volkswagen ID.5 review >>


=8. Volkswagen ID.4

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Volkswagen ID.4 GTX 2022 tracking

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

Total Euro NCAP score 343/400

The ID.4 was the second model to join Volkswagen's growing electric car line-up, following on from the smaller Volkswagen 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 well, the ID.4 comes with a full suite of airbags, including one between the front seats 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 >>


7. Mercedes C-Class

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Mercedes C-Class 2022 front

Adult occupant protection 93% Child occupant protection 89% Pedestrian protection 80% Safety Assist 82%

Total Euro NCAP score 344/400

The Mercedes C-Class is the brand’s entry-level executive saloon, but that doesn’t mean it falls short for safety. Crash testers highlighted the excellent pedestrian protection provided by its ‘active bonnet’, which automatically raises to create a cushion above the engine. The C-Class also received special recognition for its optional system which ‘talks’ to other cars over the internet to anticipate hazards.

Read our full Mercedes C-Class review >>


6. Polestar 2

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Polestar 2 2021 front

Adult occupant protection 93% Child occupant protection 89% Pedestrian protection 80% Safety Assist 83%

Total Euro NCAP score 345/400

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. 

Genesis G80 2021 front right cornering

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

Total Euro NCAP score 346/400

The G80 luxury car matches the excellent adult occupant and child occupant protection scores of its 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 prevent them from striking the engine.

Read our full Genesis G80 review >>


4. Nissan Qashqai

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Nissan Qashqai 2022 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%, which is equalled only by the Subaru Outback (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.

Read our full Nissan Qashqai review >>


3. Lexus NX

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Lexus NX front

Adult occupant protection 91% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 83% Safety Assist 91%

Total Euro NCAP score 352/400

The new NX is the first Lexus to be available as a plug-in hybrid, and it's been worth the wait, because the new NX 450h+ is our Plug-in Hybrid of the Year, with impressive refinement, a good electric-only range, low CO2 emissions and a low company car tax rate. It also scored impressively well in the most recent round of safety tests, with high scores in each category. 

Read our full Lexus NX review >>


2. 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 that helped it to the highest overall Euro NCAP score of any car assessed since the latest testing regime was introduced.

Read our full Subaru Outback review >>


1. Tesla Model Y

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Tesla Model Y 2022 front

Adult occupant protection 97% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 82% Safety Assist 98%

Total Euro NCAP score 364/400

The Model Y is a seriously rapid electric car with a long range and roomy interior. It’s also extremely safe for those inside and outside the car. Its score of 97% for the protection of adults travelling in the car is the highest of any model tested by NCAP under the current regime. And its safety assist score – that’s the rating for how well the car actively helps the driver to avoid or mitigate an imminent collision – is also the best seen to date. Along with strong scores for child occupant and vulnerable road user protection helped it to the highest overall Euro NCAP score of any car assessed since the latest testing regime was introduced.

Read our full Tesla Model Y review >>


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