It’s not something we like to dwell on, but the forces at play during even the shortest of car journeys are high. Reassuringly, modern cars come with safety systems to protect us in the event of a collision. Some of these – like electronic stability programmes (ESP), ISOFIX child-seat mounts and anti-lock brakes (ABS) – are mandatory, while others – such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) and lane-departure warning systems – don’t have to be fitted by law, but are becoming increasingly common.
Most people want to drive a safe car and the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) evaluates the vast majority of models sold in the UK and Europe. An independent body, Euro NCAP assesses each car it tests in four key areas: adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, pedestrian protection and safety assistance, with the last of those categories covering technology such as AEB and lane-departure warning.
Those four categories are assigned a percentage score and, taken in conjunction, dictate how many stars (out of five) the car is assigned. All the models featured in our list scored the full five stars, but we’ve judged their overall safety provision by looking at the adult occupant percentage score each was awarded. This gives the truest indication of how safe a car is, because it comprehensively assesses the way the car is built and how it’s likely to behave in a collision.
It’s also worth pointing out that because Euro NCAP periodically makes its tests more stringent, we’re only looking at cars assessed in 2015 and 2016. If you’d like to know more about Euro NCAP, our detailed article on the subject has all the information you’ll need.