Safest cars

Last updated: Aug 28, 2014

Many people put safety at the top of their list of priorities when it comes to choosing a new car. If you’re one of those people and want to know about the safest cars on the market, then our top 10 list is exactly what you need. We’ve ranked cars in order of the scores they achieved during crash tests carried out by Euro NCAP, the independent body that gives new cars an official safety rating.

Cars are assessed by Euro NCAP in four areas: adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, pedestrian protection, and safety assistance systems.

The first three categories assess the car's structure combined with safety systems like the airbags to see how much protection is offered to occupants and pedestrians in the event of a crash. The safety assist category looks at the level and efficiency of safety technology that's fitted to the car to help prevent a crash from happening in the first place. This includes electronic stability control, lane departure warning systems and systems that can automatically apply the brakes if it senses you are going to hit a car in front. For more information on Euro NCAP testing, read our Euro NCAP: How safe is my car? article.

Every car that's tested is given a percentage for each category and then an overall star rating out of five. All the cars on our list achieved a five-star rating, so we have taken a closer look at their individual category scores to rank them.

Volvo V40 hatchback

The Volvo V40 is the safest car you can currently buy, beating every other car ever tested by Euro NCAP. Volvo has held a reputation for building safe cars for a long time and the V40 is proof that it continues to do so today, scoring highly in all four categories. It got a 98 percent rating for adult occupant protection, scored 100 percent in the safety assist category and an innovative external pedestrian airbag helped it score a record 88 percent for pedestrian protection, which is a weak point for most cars. Read more.

Key points

3.7 / 5
Price 
£18,995 - £31,900

BMW 5 Series saloon

The current generation BMW 5 Series has now been on sale for five years and was tested by Euro NCAP in 2010 – the fact it remains near the top of our list is a tribute to its strong safety credentials. As you would expect of an executive saloon like the 5 Series , it has plenty of safety technology fitted as standard, including traction and stability control, and scored 100 percent in the safety assist category. It also achieved 95 percent for adult protection. Read more.

Key points

4.8 / 5
Price 
£30,265 - £57,910

Vauxhall Mokka SUV

Although the Vauxhall Mokka wouldn’t be our first choice family car or crossover model, it does have an excellent safety profile. It scored 96 percent for adult occupant protection, 90 percent for child occupant protection, and 100 percent for safety assist thanks to an excellent range of safety equipment. Pedestrian protection was slightly lower at 67 percent because certain parts of the bonnet offer poor or marginal protection to an adult pedestrian in the event of an accident. However, overall the Mokka is an extremely safe car. Read more.

Key points

2.8 / 5
Price 
£16,199 - £24,149

Ford Kuga SUV

The Ford Kuga might not be a natural rival for the Mokka, but in safety terms the two are closely matched. The Mokka just has the edge – not by much though as the Kuga still performed very well in the Euro NCAP tests and takes fourth spot in our top 10. It achieved 94 percent for adult occupant and got the full 100 percent for safety assist thanks in part to standard-fit electronic stability control and an array of airbags. Read more.

Key points

3.0 / 5
Price 
£21,000 - £33,250

BMW 3 Series saloon

The BMW 3 Series didn’t score quite as highly as the bigger 5 Series but it’s still a very safe car, gaining a 95 percent score in the adult occupancy category. It comes with lots of safety technology too, with driver, passenger and side impact airbags standard on all cars in the range. There are no other cars in the 3 Series’ class in our top 10 list, so buyers looking for the safest small premium saloon can rest assured that the 3 Series is the one to go for. Read more.

Key points

4.9 / 5
Price 
£23,555 - £43,685

Hyundai Santa Fe SUV

Hyundai hasn’t always had a good reputation for safety, but with its Santa Fe SUV it has broken into the top ten safest cars list. It scored highly for side impacts, and the passenger compartment remained stable when subjected to frontal impact. Electronic stability control and seatbelt reminders are standard on all cars too, which gave the Hyundai Santa Fe a strong score for safety equipment. Read more.

Key points

3.6 / 5
Price 
£27,800 - £35,430

Audi A3 hatchback

Despite the fact that the Audi A3 shares many of the same parts with the Volkswagen Golf, it did better overall in the Euro NCAP tests thanks to superior scores in the pedestrian safety and safety assist categories. The A3’s seventh place in our list means Audi has managed to beat Mercedes in terms of safety by getting a car in our top ten safest cars list. Read more.

Key points

4.0 / 5
Price 
£18,575 - £32,420

Renault Clio hatchback

The difference in price and sheer size between SUVs and hatchbacks makes it more difficult for the smaller cars to outperform the bigger ones in safety tests, so it’s heartening to see a car like the Renault Clio making the list. It scored 88 percent for adult occupancy protection and an impressive 99 percent in the safety assist category. Read more.

Key points

3.9 / 5
Price 
£10,795 - £17,595

Mitsubishi Outlander SUV

Mitsubishi doesn’t have a big reputation for safety, especially when compared to manufacturers like Volvo and BMW, but the Outlander shows that it is more than capable of producing a really safe car. It’s fair to say the Outlander isn’t our favourite SUV but as far as safety is concerned it is one of the best, getting 94 percent for adult occupant safety and scoring the full 100 percent in the safety assist category. Read more.

Key points

2.4 / 5
Price 
£23,984 - £34,234

Subaru Forester SUV

The Subaru Forester got high scores across the board, achieving 91 percent for both adult and child occupant protection when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP. It’s fair to expect cars of the Forester’s size to perform well in crash tests, and it’s interesting to note that smaller cars like the Renault Clio and Audi A3 are actually higher up the list than the Forester, but nevertheless – the fact that the Forester rounds out our top ten safest cars list shows it is a very safe car to own. Read more.

Key points

3.5 / 5
Price 
£24,995 - £30,995

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