The safest cars on sale today

Safety ratings have been announced for five new car models. Did they do well enough to make it into our list of the 10 safest cars on sale?...

Mercedes GLA Euro NCAP crash test

Safety organisation Euro NCAP has assessed five more new cars under its latest, stricter scoring regime. Only one of them gained the full five-star rating, and two were marked down to four stars for falling short in different areas.  

The second-generation Vauxhall Mokka didn't achieve five-star scores in any of the four areas rated: adult and child protection, the protection of vulnerable road users and the fitment of active safety assistance systems. Its automatic emergency braking (AEB) system can only detect other vehicles, not cyclists, and doesn't have a front centre airbag to lessen injuries to adults in side collisions. 

Vauxhall Mokka crash test

The Renault Kangoo performed well in most crash tests, but without a front centre airbag it doesn't offer adult occupants the highest level of side impact protection, so it was given an overall rating of four stars. It was, however, praised for the standard fitment of an AEB system that can detect cars, cyclists and pedestrians, and avoid collisions with them.  

Cupra is the high-performance brand of Spanish car maker Seat. Its Cupra Leon hot hatch is based on the Seat Leon and it gained the same five-star safety rating as the mainstream hatchback, posting strong scores for adult and child protection and its active safety assistance systems.

Seat Leon crash test

Two other cars were rated alongside those above: the Mercedes EQA and GLA. However, their ratings are partly based on some new tests and partly on 2019 ratings given to the B-Class, which they're based on. Both models gain five-star ratings but we've not included them in our top 10 below because their scores are partly based on less stringent 2019 Euro NCAP tests. 

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, 25 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. 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.

Cupra Leon 2021 front cornering

Adult occupant protection 91% Child occupant protection 88% Pedestrian protection 71% Safety Assist 80%

Total Euro NCAP score 330/400

The Cupra Leon is a hot hatch with a twist. As well as a conventional-engined model, you can order it as a plug-in hybrid enabling you to save money making short trips around town. Essentially a faster, racier-looking Seat Leon, the Cupra version has all the strong safety attributes that have put its sibling even higher up in our top 10. The only area where it gets a slightly lower mark is adult occupant protection, but its score of 91% is still up there with the best. 

Read our full Cupra Leon review >>

=8. Toyota Yaris

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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. It's shaped in a way that makes it less damaging to other vehicles in the event of an accident, and the addition of two central airbags helps reduce 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.

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

Read our full Seat Leon review >>

6. Genesis GV80

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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 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 impressive as well.

Read our full Genesis GV80 review >>

5. 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 >>

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. 

Read our full Skoda Enyaq review >>

3. Volkswagen ID.4

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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.

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 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 >>

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 second car is a thrillingly quick electric hatchback with an exquisite interior and a decent range. It's also the safest car yet to face 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 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 >>

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