Safest cars 2016

Crash tested to destruction: see the safest cars of 2016

BuyaCar team
Nov 22, 2016

Cars have come a long way since seatbelts were seen as the cutting edge in road safety. Airbags, crumple zones and tough side-impact protection are now fitted to even the cheapest cars. You can even get a seatbelt airbag.

Much of the credit goes to an independent crash-testing programme called Euro NCAP. Funded by European governments - including Britain - it assesses cars to a much tougher standard than the minimum legal requirement.

We’ve identified Euro NCAP’s top-scoring cars from the past two years to create list of the safest cars on sale today. Some cars tested earlier are likely to be just as safe, but their results can’t be compared to more recent ones.

Jump to the safest:
Small cars
Family cars
Large family cars
Crossover and SUVs

As the safest car is one that doesn’t crash in the first place, Euro NCAP now takes into account so-called active safety systems that can help avoid a collision.

Cars fitted with automatic braking systems, which will slam on the brakes if you’re about to hit an obstacle, get a better score, as do those with sophisticated automatic steering that will nudge you back into your lane if you start drifting into another one.

The tests include:

  • Four different crash tests and additional assessments
  • Scores for adult and child occupant safety, pedestrian protection and crash avoidance technology
  • An overall rating out of five stars
  • Ratings based on the type of car (a five-star small hatchback isn’t necessarily as safe as a five-star big SUV)

Each year some elements of the tests are usually made tougher, so there’s no guarantee that a top-rated car from 2015 would have gained five stars in 2016. However, the tests are similar enough that any top-rated car from the past five years is eligible to feature as one of the safest cars on the road.

We’ve included child protection scores, even though the 2016 test uses crash test dummies to represent a six-year-old and a ten-year-old. This is completely different to the 2015 test that used dummies representing a 1½-year-old baby and a three-year-old.

  

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Safest small cars

Honda Jazz
Overall Euro NCAP rating ★★★★★ (2015)

Adult occupant rating 93%
Child occupant rating 85%

As the highest scoring hatchback recently tested by Euro NCAP, the Jazz is highly rated for its protection of adults and children. Its performance in preventing serious injuries to all parts of the body was rated as good (the top rating) or adequate (the second best rank out of five).

Its automatic emergency braking system is standard, which helps to boost its score too, proving that even small cars can be tough.
Read the full Honda Jazz buying guide

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Mazda 2
Overall Euro NCAP rating ★★★★ (2015)

Adult occupant rating 86%
Child occupant rating 78%

The Mazda 2 scores highly, but is slightly below the Honda Jazz in most categories. Even so, the car’s crash systems are rated as good or adequate for all types of injury to adult occupants, apart from the necks of rear passengers who are at an increased risk of whiplash in a crash.
The Mazda 2’s high point was its protection of a young 1½ year-old in a rear-facing child seat, where it scored top marks. There was also good protection for older children in forward-facing seats.

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Hyundai i20
Overall Euro NCAP rating ★★★★ (2015)


Adult occupant rating 85%
Child occupant rating 73%

Despite the i20’s small dimensions, it still comes out of the crash tests as a safe car, offering good or adequate protection to all adult occupants, with the exception of neck support for rear passengers, which is marginal - slightly increasing the risk of whiplash.

Child protection is also good or adequate, although some types of frontal impact show a small increase in the risk of head injury to children in a rear-facing seat.
Get more information in the Hyundai i20 buying guide

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Safest family cars

Renault Megane
Overall Euro NCAP rating ★★★★★ (2015)

Adult occupant rating 88%
Child occupant rating 87%

The Megane was found to offer exceptionally good protection, with safety for most areas of adult occupants mainly ranked good - the top rating, with only a few parts of the body given adequate protection, which is the second-highest rating out of five. The score for child protection was almost as high, with top marks in the frontal crash test, and good protection in side impacts.

The option of lane departure warning, which sounds an alert if the Megane drifts out of its lane, also helped boost the car’s overall score.
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Vauxhall Astra
Overall Euro NCAP rating ★★★★★ (2015)

Adult occupant rating 86%
Child occupant rating 84%

With good or adequate crash protection for adults, and similarly good child protection, including full marks for protecting a 1½ year-old in a rear-facing child seat in a frontal crash, the Astra is only overshadowed by the even better-performing Megane.

Unlike the Renault, the Astra has an automatic emergency braking system that is expected to be fitted to a large proportion of cars that are sold, which helped to boost the car’s score.
Read the full Vauxhall Astra buying guide

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Infiniti Q30
Overall Euro NCAP rating ★★★★★ (2015)


Adult occupant rating 84%
Child occupant rating 86%

Nissan’s luxury brand, Infiniti, has struggled to make a name for itself, and is hoping that the small Q30 is the car to attract new customers. It has what it takes when it comes to safety, with high scores for adult and child occupants.

It scores well for protecting adults from most injuries, apart from weak whiplash protection and a marginal risk of chest injury in a test where the side of the car hits a pole.

Child protection has an even higher score and is almost as good as the Megane. It scored top marks for the safety of a 1½ year-old child in a rear-facing seat.

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Safest large family cars

Alfa Romeo Giulia
Overall Euro NCAP rating ★★★★★ (2016)


Adult occupant score 98%
Child occupant score 81%

The new Alfa Romeo Giulia achieved an almost perfect score for adult protection in the very latest version of Euro NCAP crash tests.

Child protection was also rated good or adequate (the best two ratings out of five) in all areas, apart from chest protection for the 6-year-old dummy that’s used in the latest 2016 tests. This was only given a marginal score, which is the third rating out of five.

The Giulia scored well for its automatic emergency braking system, which works at high motorway speeds but lost marks for its speed limiter, which prevents the car going over a speed set by the driver. Euro NCAP said that it was too complicated to set while the car was moving.
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Toyota Avensis
Overall Euro NCAP safety rating ★★★★★ (2015)


Adult occupant score 93%
Child occupant score 85%

A stellar score for the Avensis was prevented because Euro NCAP’s tests didn’t show that the car’s knee airbag could prevent certain knee and pelvic injuries. This meant that protection for these regions of the body was only rated as marginal. All other scores were good or adequate.

The tests showed that child occupants were well-protected. Safety for a 1½-year-old dummy in a rear-facing seat earned top marks.

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Jaguar XE
Overall Euro NCAP safety rating ★★★★★ (2015)

Adult occupant score 92%
Child occupant score 82%

With mainly good or adequate scores for adult protection, the Jaguar XE sailed through its Euro NCAP crash tests. Only marginal protection for the driver’s test in one type of frontal impact, and a marginal risk of whiplash for rear passengers, prevented a clean sweep.

The XE was another car that earned top marks for protecting the 1½-year-old dummy in crash tests, and also scored highly for the safety of children in front-facing seats.

It scored well for its crash-avoiding technology, with its automatic emergency braking found to be effective.

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Safest crossovers and SUVs

VW Tiguan
Overall Euro NCAP rating ★★★★★ (2016)

Adult occupant rating 96%
Child occupant rating 84%

The VW Tiguan almost swept the board for adult occupants, being awarded the top good rating for protecting all regions of the body apart from the chest.

Child protection was also rated highly, with good or adequate scores for every test, apart from chest protection for a six-year-old crash dummy which earned a marginal rating - the third best on offer.

The Tiguan’s automatic emergency braking system worked well in the test.

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Seat Ateca
Overall Euro NCAP rating ★★★★★ (2016)

Adult occupant rating 93%
Child occupant rating 84%

Like the Tiguan, the Seat Ateca scored exceptionally well in protecting adult occupants, and mainly lost points on chest protection, which was good or adequate in most cases, but marginal for rear passengers in one type of frontal crash.

It was the same story for child protection. Safety for six- and ten-year-olds was good or adequate apart from a marginal score for the chest of the six-year-old dummy.

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Peugeot 3008
Overall Euro NCAP rating ★★★★★ (2016)


Adult occupant rating 86%
Child occupant rating 85%

The 3008 is the third of three crossovers to be tested this year and also scores highly, even if it doesn’t reach the heights of the Seat Ateca and VW Tiguan.

Again, the only marginal score recorded was for protection of the driver’s test in one type of frontal impact, with all other areas of the body having good or adequate crash protection.

There was good or adequate protection for children in the back, apart from the chest of the six-year-old dummy: this was only rated marginal in a frontal crash test.

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