Research body defines safest cars available in Britain

| Transport

Volvo XC90 Winner of 2016 Car of the Year

Thatcham Research and consumer automotive magazine detail the winners of the Car of the Year Safety Awards for Britain in 2016.

The “What Car?” magazine and automotive research centre, Thatcham Research have concluded the judging on which cars should be chosen to receive the accolade of the safest cars on Britain’s roads from among 17 cars that reached the shortlist. The criteria were that each car should have received a 5-star Euro NCAP crash test rating and should be fitted with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) as a standard feature on at least one variant of the model.

As a result of the judging, The Volvo XC90 was chosen as the overall winner with the Honda Jazz and Toyota Avensis chosen as runners up.

Commenting on the choice of the winners, Peter Shaw of Thatcham Research said, “It is a great pleasure to be able to formally recognise Volvo, as well as Honda and Toyota, for the excellent safety performance of their vehicles.”

Commenting specifically on the choice of the XC90 as the overall winner, Peter Shaw continued, “As the clear winner of the 2016 Car of the Year Safety Award, the Volvo XC90 has an outstanding complement of active and passive safety features that affords drivers, passengers and other road users the highest levels of protection currently available.”

“Like all of the 17 cars in the final reckoning, the Volvo XC90, Honda Jazz and Toyota Avensis gained top ratings in crash testing, but just as importantly they are fitted as standard with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), a technology that Thatcham Research believes is key to reducing crashes and saving lives on British roads,” he concluded.

Further action needed

Thatcham Research explained in more detail about the importance of AEB, stating that such advanced safety features should be available as standard equipment on every new car that is sold and not just on the 17% as is currently the case. Despite the fact that cars of all types are safer today than they’ve ever been, there is still much that both consumers and the industry itself can achieve to continue improving road safety.

“When you have the chance for everyone to gain from the inclusion of a life-saving technology that has been shown in studies to reduce the likelihood of a front-to-rear crash by almost 40%, you simply cannot afford to miss the opportunity,” Peter Shaw added.

In conjunction with its call for AEB to be standard on all new cars, the research organisation believes that further action is needed in a number of related areas to ensure that Britain sees the maximum benefit from safety technologies available now, but not fully embraced:

* AEB should be a purchase decision factor for consumers and fleet users.
* The industry should support consumer opinion and make safety features standard rather than optional.
* Simplify information on safety features so that consumers have more awareness of their function and value.
* Adopt generic names for safety technology rather than individual company branding.

On this latter point, AEB is a good example with Thatcham Research favouring Automatic Braking as the term to apply rather than the confusing array of proprietary names such as City Safety, Active City Stop and City Emergency Braking, which all mean the same thing but may be interpreted differently.

Peter Show elaborated on these simple changes that could be made, saying “People choosing only AEB-equipped new cars now will not only make our roads safer, it will also send a clear message to car makers about the importance of this technology. We also believe that industry-wide adoption of simple, generic names for individual safety features in place of the many different descriptions currently used by car makers would significantly improve consumer awareness and understanding of live-saving technologies.”

Choosing the safest

According to Thatcham Research judges, the Volvo XC90 and the runners up should be at the top of the list of any purchasing choices being made when selecting a new car.

One of the judges, Matthew Avery said, “The Volvo XC90 proved to be head and shoulders above the rest of the cars tested, its high levels of active and passive safety make it our highest scoring car ever. Volvo has really raised the bar, with features including pedestrian and cyclist recognition, auto braking, run-off road protection and rear collision alert so it’s a well-deserved winner.”

The Toyota Avensis was also praised by Avery for offering a very high level of protection at a reasonable price, while Toyota as a manufacturer was singled out for its commitment to safety: “Here is a car maker that has gone beyond what is currently tested by safety bodies, providing advanced technologies like Lane Departure Warning as well as low and high speed AEB, that are available across the majority of the range.” he said.

The Honda Jazz was commended for having a high level of safety at an attractive price: “For under £14k, the Honda Jazz has standard fit AEB across the full range, making it the safest supermini in Britain,” commented Avery. “Other safety technologies like Lane Departure Warning and traffic sign recognition are also available and its one touch speed limiting feature is unique in the supermini class.”

What Car? Editorial Director, Jim Holder, commented: “Safety is very important to our magazine readers and a significant search term on our website. That’s why we teamed up with safety expert Thatcham Research to name the safest new car on sale in Britain, basing our results on the latest, tougher Euro NCAP test ratings and further analysis by an expert panel of judges.”

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