The safest cars on sale today

Seven new cars have been assessed by safety organisation Euro NCAP under the latest, more stringent test regime. Are they good enough to make it into our list of the top 10 safest cars?...

The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) puts new cars through a series of rigorous tests.

Audi A3 crash test

These recreate important real-life accident scenarios that could result in the death or serious injury of a car’s occupants or other road users. Models that do well are awarded the top five-star rating, while those that disappoint could get only one star for safety. 

Euro NCAP toughens up its tests every two years to encourage car makers to keep improving safety standards. For 2020, 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.

Intro (cont.)

AUTONOMOUS EMERGENCY BRAKING (AEB)

The new test 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. To date, these tests have yielded nine five-star results and one four-star result. The only car to score fewer than four stars on these tests so far is the latest Hyundai i10, whose three-star rating was put down to its AEB functionality being more limited than some small car rivals, and the fact that, in the full-width frontal impact tests, the driver's lap belt didn't stop the driver's pelvis from slipping under it.

In this slideshow, we take a look at the 10 highest-scoring cars to have undergone these new, more stringent safety tests. 

10. Honda E

2020 Honda e LT cornering

Honda's small electric car sneaks into the top 10 here despite getting an overall rating of four out of five stars from Euro NCAP. That said, it comes with important safety kit including Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) as standard, as well as lane-keeping assistance and an active bonnet to help protect pedestrians in case of an accident.

Read our full Honda E review >>

Honda E (cont.)

Honda E 2020 RHD dashboard tight

Adult occupant protection 76% Child occupant protection 82% Pedestrian protection 62% Safety Assist 65%

Total Euro NCAP score 285/400

Save money on a new Honda E with What Car? >>

9. Audi A3

Audi A3 front corner

The latest Audi A3 is not only a fine family hatchback to drive, it's also one of the safest. Euro NCAP's testers noted that, just like the latest Volkswagen Golf, the new A3 features a central airbag which stops the driver and front passenger from hitting each other in the event of an accident; this contributed to its high adult occupant protection score.

Read our full Audi A3 review >>

Audi A3 (cont.)

Audi A3 dashboard

Adult occupant protection 89% Child occupant protection 81% Pedestrian protection 68% Safety Assist 73%

Total Euro NCAP score 311/400

Save money on a new Audi A3 with What Car? >>

8. Kia Sorento

2021 Kia Sorento front

We've been very impressed with the latest version of the Sorento large SUV, giving the model a full five-star score on our road test. The Sorento earned five stars from Euro NCAP too, largely because it's the first Kia model to provide a central airbag, and because it includes an advanced e-Call system that automatically alerts the emergency services in the event of an accident. These technologies helped to offset what Euro NCAP called an "underwhelming performance" in its frontal offset crash test.

Read our full Kia Sorento review >>

Kia Sorento (cont.)

2021 Kia Sorento dashboard

Adult occupant protection 82% Child occupant protection 85% Pedestrian protection 63% Safety Assist 87%

Total Euro NCAP score 317/400

Save money on a new Kia Sorento with What Car? >>

7. Mazda MX-30

Mazda MX-30 Euro NCAP crash test

The electric MX-30 is based on the same underpinnings as the CX-30 family SUV, but is considerably heavier, and so that it achieved 91% for adult occupant protection is impressive, and helped by a strengthened front-end structure. However, Euro NCAP's testers noted that although the MX-30 comes with safety technologies including AEB as standard, the system's performance when detecting and avoiding cyclists and pedestrians was only mediocre.

Read our full Mazda MX-30 review >>

Mazda MX-30 (cont.)

Mazda MX-30 2020 front seats

Adult occupant protection 91% Child occupant protection 87% Pedestrian protection 68% Safety Assist 73%

Total Euro NCAP score 319/400

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

6. Land Rover Defender

Land Rover Defender 2021 Right tracking on beach

Despite being both larger and heavier than the previous Defender, this latest version is also far more advanced when it comes to safety, and its raft of driver assistance and safety systems contributed to a high score across the board from Euro NCAP's testers. Every Defender gets AEB as standard, as well as lane-keeping assistance.

Read our full Land Rover Defender review >>

Land Rover Defender (cont.)

Land Rover Defender dashboard

Adult occupant protection 85% Child occupant protection 85% Pedestrian protection 71% Safety Assist 79%

Total Euro NCAP score 320/400

Save money on a new Land Rover Defender with What Car? >>

5. Isuzu D-Max

Isuzu D-Max Yukon

You might imagine that a heavy pick-up truck would struggle to come out on top in safety tests, but the D-Max did just that. Although Euro NCAP noted that the car's shape and weight made it "aggressive to other vehicles" in the event of a collision, the fact that it now comes as standard with restraints, AEB and a centre airbag made it better both at avoiding potential accidents, and protecting those inside should the worst happen.

Read our full Isuzu D-Max review >>

Isuzu D-Max (cont.)

Isuzu D-Max Utah Interior

Adult occupant protection 84% Child occupant protection 86% Pedestrian protection 69% Safety Assist 83%

Total Euro NCAP score 322/400

4. Honda Jazz

Honda Jazz crash test

Honda's small car impressed us with its frugal hybrid engine setup and its practicality, and it impressed in the latest safety tests too, thanks to modern safety systems such as AEB and a centre airbag featuring for the first time. The Jazz also put in the highest score for pedestrian protection of any car yet tested under the stricter 2020 regime.

Read our full Honda Jazz review >>

Honda Jazz (cont.)

Honda Jazz 2021 RHD dashboard

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

Total Euro NCAP score 326/400

Save money on a new Honda Jazz with What Car? >>

3. Toyota Yaris

Toyota Yaris crash test

The new Toyota Yaris was the first car to be tested under Euro NCAP's tougher 2020 safety tests, and emerged with a high score in all four areas. As well as noting that the car's shape makes it friendlier to other vehicles in the event of an accident, the addition of two central airbags help to limit injuries to those inside the car. Testers also raised Toyota's Safety Sense technology, which successfully stopped the Yaris from turning and hitting an oncoming car in Euro NCAP's tests.

Read our full Toyota Yaris review >>

Toyota Yaris (cont.)

Toyota Yaris 2021 Dashboard

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

Total Euro NCAP score 330/400

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

2. Seat Leon

2020 Seat Leon front action

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

Read our full Seat Leon review >>

Seat Leon (cont.)

Seat Leon 2021 RHD dashboard

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

Total Euro NCAP score 331/400

Save money on a new Seat Leon with What Car? >>

1. Volkswagen ID.3

Volkswagen ID.3 crash test

There was a lot of hype leading up to the launch of Volkswagen's new electric family hatchback, but both our road tests and Euro NCAP's crash tests have shown that it was worth the wait. In fact, the ID.3 is the safest car yet to go through the more demanding 2020 tests. Testers praised the car's tough structure and restraints for their protection of occupants in an accident, while the inclusion as standard of AEB, an advanced e-Call system and a system which applies the car's breaks after an accident all combined to make this one of 2020's stand-out performers.

Read our full Volkswagen ID.3 review >>

Volkswagen ID.3 (cont.)

Volkswagen ID.3 2021 dashboard

Adult occupant protection 87% Child occupant protection 89% Pedestrian protection 71% Safety Assist 88%

Total Euro NCAP score 335/400

Save money on a new Volkswagen ID.3 with What Car? >>

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