What are the safest cars on sale today?

We take a look at the cars that have earned five stars on Euro NCAP's safety tests since 2013; if you're buying a new car, you need to see this first...

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Claire Evans
05 December 2018

What are the safest cars on sale today?

The latest set of crash test results from Euro NCAP highlights how quickly the safety technology on new cars has moved on.

The safety organisation has retested the latest version of the Fiat Panda, a car that gained four stars when it was originally tested in 2011. However, its rating for 2018 is zero stars. That makes it one of only two cars to get no stars at all in the tests; the other was the Fiat Punto, which was retested in 2017.

In particular, the Panda has been criticised by Euro NCAP for its poor child occupant protection. When judged at 2018 levels, the Panda gained just 16% in this area, the lowest score ever.

Another new car also scored very badly in the latest round of tests: the Jeep Wrangler, which received a one-star rating.

In contrast, other cars tested in 2018 have gained five-star safety ratings. They include the Audi Q3, BMW X5, Hyundai Santa Fe, Jaguar I-Pace, Peugeot 508 and Volvo V60.

The latest results show just how much safer most new cars are. In fact, new cars are getting safer all the time. In fact, the number of deaths on British roads has halved since 1997, and a large part of that success is down to Euro NCAP. Formed in 1996, the European New Car Assessment Programme crash tests every new car on sale in the UK – and awards a star rating based on the four areas it tests. Those tests are for adult occupant, child occupant and pedestrian protection, as well as for safety assistance systems.

The tests have evolved over time, as safety technology has increased. In 2003, the group introduced new ratings for child protection, and in 2009 pedestrian protection was added to the assessment. One of the most significant changes came in 2014, when Euro NCAP introduced the Safety Assist rating for the performance of crash avoidance systems, such as automatic emergency braking (AEB).

For 2016, Euro NCAP changed the criteria of its tests to give each car two ratings: one for the car with its standard list of equipment and one for variants with additional safety equipment. In 2018, it also beefed up its tests of AEB to assess how well the systems detect cyclists and other vulnerable road users in the daytime and at night. 

At the 2018 What Car? Car of the Year Awards, we named the Volvo XC60 as the winner of our Safety Award, with the Subaru XV and Volkswagen T-Roc both highly commended.

So, what are the safest cars on sale today? Below, we've listed every new car that currently has a five-star rating from Euro NCAP since 2013. We've also indicated which cars receive a five-star rating only when equipped with an optional pack.

A car's absence from this list does not imply that it is unsafe; it might have been launched before 2013 or hasn't been tested yet. We've also shown you every car's percentage score for each of Euro NCAP's tests.

Read more - how Euro NCAP crash tests save lives

Click on the name of any car to read its full What Car? review.

The safest cars in the UK – 2013-18

2018's five-star cars

Audi A6

Adult protection: 93%; child protection: 85%; pedestrian protection: 81%; safety systems: 76%

2018 Audi A6 – price, specs and release date

 


 

Audi Q3

Adult protection: 95%; child protection: 86%; pedestrian protection: 76%; safety systems: 85%

2018 Audi Q3

 

BMW X5

Adult protection: 89%; child protection: 86%; pedestrian protection: 75%; safety systems: 75%

2018 BMW X5 revealed – price, specs and release date

Ford Focus

Adult protection: 55%; child protection: 87%; pedestrian protection: 72%; safety systems: 75%

2018 Ford Focus

 

 


Hyundai Nexo

Adult protection: 94%; child protection: 87%; pedestrian protection: 67%; safety systems: 80%

Hyundai Nexo front

 

Hyundai Santa Fe

Adult protection: 94%; child protection: 88%; pedestrian protection: 67%; safety systems: 76%

2018 Hyundai Santa Fe – exclusive Reader Test Team preview

 

Jaguar I-Pace

Adult protection: 94%; child protection: 81%; pedestrian protection: 73%; safety systems: 81%

Jaguar I-Pace

Lexus ES

Adult protection: 91%; child protection: 87%; pedestrian protection: 90%; safety systems: 77%

Lexus ES

Mazda 6

Adult protection: 95%; child protection: 91%; pedestrian protection: 66%; safety systems: 73%

2018 Mazda 6 – price, specs and release date

Mercedes-Benz A-Class

Adult protection: 96%; child protection: 91%; pedestrian protection: 92%; safety systems: 75%

2018 Mercedes A-Class – price, specs and release date

Nissan Leaf

Adult protection: 93%; child protection: 86%; pedestrian protection: 71%; safety systems: 71%

Nissan Leaf

 


 

Peugeot 508

Adult protection: 96%; child protection: 86%; pedestrian protection: 71%; safety systems: 79%

2018 Peugeot 508 review - price, specs and release date

Volkswagen Touareg

Adult protection: 89%; child protection: 86%; pedestrian protection: 72%; safety systems: 81%

2018 Volkswagen Touareg – price, specs and release date

 

Volvo V60/S60

Adult protection: 96%; child protection: 84%; pedestrian protection: 74%; safety systems: 76%

2018 Volvo V60 – price, specs and release date

Volvo XC40

Adult protection: 97%; child protection: 87%; pedestrian protection: 71%; safety systems: 76%

Volvo XC40 long-term test review