Winners have been announced in different vehicle classes as the safest cars in Europe with the Volvo XC90 taking the top honours.
During 2015, the crash tests to which new cars were assessed by Euro NCAP became tougher with the introductio of the full width frontal impact test and led to manufacturers of vehicles across a range of styles fitting rear seatbelt pre-tensioners and load limiters.
The additional requirement for Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) technology also drove the industry to adopt the latest life-saving systems, resulting in a crop of vehicles being awarded the sought-after 5-star Euro NCAP rating. The car safety testing organisation saw a marked difference between the newer cars and those which were of an older design which now lag the field in safety performance.
Out of all the cars submitted for testing at Euro NCAP throughout the year, the organisation has chosen the winners from all the available categories:
Volvo XC90: A dual winner, the big Volvo was given the best performing large off-roader award as well as the best overall performance for the year, having gained 100% conformance for safety assist technology adoption and a 97% adult occupant protection rating. For the small off-roader category, the Mercedes-Benz GLC took the honour of being the best of the year.
Toyota Avensis and Jaguar XE: These two vehicles shared the laurels in the best large family car category with the Jaguar gaining recognition for supplying all of its safety features as standard equipment rather than optional extras and the Toyota being applauded for the delivery of safety technology at an affordable price, despite some of it being only offered as optional extras.
Infiniti Q30: With an overall solid performance in all aspects of the assessment, the Infiniti Q30 was particularly outstanding in pedestrian protection technology. The car’s active bonnet pops up to protect pedestrians from striking the hard engine parts under the bonnet in a collision and this helped to secure the award for the Q30.
Honda Jazz: In a close struggle with the equally well-equipped Suzuki Vitara, the small Honda took the title of best in class in the supermini category from Euro NCAP. Although the Honda and Suzuki performed very closely in testing, the Honda was given the award based on the advanced safety systems that it is equipped with.
In other categories, the Volkswagen Touran was the best small MPV and the Ford Galaxy beat the Renault Espace to take top position in the large MPV category.
An interesting category is the sports car or roadster section, a group of relatively expensive and glamorous vehicles where performance takes precedence over safety with clear consequences in crash testing performance. Such cars have never performed well in safety testing and no roadster has ever achieved a 5-star rating in Euro NCAP’s history.
In 2015, Euro NCAP tested three roadsters with the BMW Z4 gaining just 3 stars and the Mazda MX5 and Audi TT each gaining 4 stars. Of those two, Euro NCAP chose the MX5 as best in category but noted that neither was fitted with the kind of collision avoidance technology that should be expected these days.
During 2016, Euro NCAP will add AEB Pedestrian systems into its assessment critera, the inclusion of which will define the leading vehicles in next year’s leadership rankings.