Safest new cars 2019

Crash tested to destruction: see the safest cars of 2019

Craig Thomas
Jan 22, 2019

Statistics covering the number of people killed or seriously injured in car collisions are lower now than at any other time in the history.

Some societal changes have had an effect – drink-driving is a fraction of what it was - but the most important factor is the inclusion of so many more safety features.

Physical features such as crumple zones, side-impact protection, three-point seatbelts and airbags have been augmented more recently by a host of electronic systems – known as active safety, because they actively prevent collisions, as opposed to mitigating the effects of a crash.

All of these features are considered by Euro NCAP (short for European New Car Assessment Programme), which runs new models through an extensive series of tests and gives them ratings based on the results.Most cars today do pretty well, with four- or five-star ratings, but a few – and the Jeep Wrangler and Suzuki Jimny are recent examples – can be found to be underperforming in the safety stakes.

There are also some cars that excel. Thatcham Research – which is the British representative of Euro NCAP – has identified the 10 safest cars that you can buy in 2019.

Thatcham’s director of research, said: “The 10 cars in this list are some of the safest ever made, anywhere in the world.”

“Accidents involving our most vulnerable road users have increased 12% over recent years. This is why the progression seen in safety technology such as AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) is so fundamental.

“All the cars in the list not only have AEB systems to prevent or mitigate crashes into other vehicles, but they can also cope with the much tougher challenge of detecting cyclists and pedestrians.

“The cars in the top 10 have systems which can provide highly effective assistance to drivers – by managing speed, offering steering support should a car drift out of lane, and maintaining a safe distance to the car in front.”

So if safety is your priority when buying a new car, you can’t do better than these 10 cars.

Note: these cars were tested in 2018, and test results throughout the years cannot be compared directly due to changes in the testing procedures.



Safest cars


1. Audi A6

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The latest generation of the German brand’s executive saloon/estate has won plaudits for features such as its pop-up bonnet, which protects pedestrians and cyclists in the event of a collision, as well as robust occupant protection.

As the Euro NCAP verdict says: “The passenger compartment of the A6 remained stable in the frontal offset test. Dummy readings showed good protection for the knees and femurs of both the driver and passenger. Audi showed that a similar level of protection would be provided to occupants of different sizes and to those sitting in different positions.”
Audi A6 buying guide

Adult occupant rating 96%
Child occupant rating 84%
Vulnerable road user rating 74%
Safety assist rating 76%

2. Audi Q3

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The second-generation Q3 attained the second highest overall Euro NCAP score (recording 87%) in 2018. Thatcham’s Avery described it as: “One of the year’s stand-out performers.”

As is often the case with premium carmakers such as Audi, there are different levels of equipment, much of it optional. “The standard-fit speed assistance system consists of a driver-set speed limiter. A more advanced system is available as an option, not included in this assessment, which recognises the local speed limit and presents the information to the driver.”

This is something to bear in mind when buying a new Q3.
Audi Q3 buying guide

Adult occupant rating 95%
Child occupant rating 86%
Vulnerable road user rating 76%
Safety assist rating 85%

3.Ford Focus

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A new version of Ford’s perennially popular family hatchback was launched in 2018 – and a range of safety features should underpin its continued position as a favourite among UK car buyers.

Avery commented: “The Ford Focus has always been a top seller, so the latest version with its standard-fit crash avoidance technology is making UK roads safer in volume. In testing, its AEB system performed just as well as some of the more expensive buys in the list. It is also fitted with a class-leading Driver Assistance System, to support steering and braking.”
Ford Focus buying guide

Adult occupant rating 85%
Child occupant rating 87%
Vulnerable road user rating 72%
Safety assist rating 75%


4. Jaguar I-Pace

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Jaguar’s all-electric SUV is not only a boon to the environment, with its zero tailpipe emissions contributing to improved air quality, but it is also very safe, with high adult occupant (91%) and crash avoidance (81%) scores.

As Euro NCAP stated: “In both the side barrier impact and the more severe side pole test, maximum points were scored, with good protection of all critical body areas.”
Jaguar I-Pace buying guide

Adult occupant rating 91%
Child occupant rating 81%
Vulnerable road user rating 73%
Safety assist rating 81%

5. Lexus ES


The new large executive car from Toyota’s premium sub-brand impressed Avery, who said: “A Best in Class Euro NCAP winner in the large family car segment, the Lexus ES is another top safety performer from a carmaker with a consistent approach to safety.”

The ES is also one of the safest cars when it comes to protecting pedestrians. The Euro NCAP verdict stated: “The ES has an active, deployable bonnet. Sensors in the bumper detect when a pedestrian has been struck and actuators lift the bonnet to provide greater clearance to hard structures in the engine compartment. The protection to the head of a struck pedestrian was good or adequate over almost the entire bonnet surface. The bumper provided good protection to pedestrians' legs and protection of the pelvis was also good.”

Adult occupant rating 91%
Child occupant rating 87%
Vulnerable road user rating 90%
Safety assist rating 77%


6. Mercedes A-Class

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The latest A-Class – which offers an impressive array of technology, including safety equipment – made a very impressive showing in crash tests, especially when considering its cost.

Avery said: “Top level safety, with the second-lowest price tag in the list. The only car in the top ten to reach 90% in terms of its overall Euro NCAP score. Mercedes has shown that volume sales and market-leading safety technology need not be mutually exclusive. It too has a high performing driver assistance system to take some of the burden on long drives, adding to its safety credentials while marking an early step towards automation.”

Like the Lexus ES, it has a deployable bonnet to help protect pedestrians in a collision – and was rated even higher (92%), with Euro NCAP commenting: “Mercedes-Benz showed that the system worked robustly for different pedestrian statutes and across a wide range of speeds.”
Mercedes A-Class buying guide

Adult occupant rating 96%
Child occupant rating 91%
Vulnerable road user rating 92%
Safety assist rating 75%


7. Nissan Leaf

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The second electric car in the list (in addition to the Jaguar I-Pace), the Leaf is a pioneer in not just popularising electric motoring, but also in the way it was tested. “The Nissan Leaf was the first car to go through Euro NCAP’s updated testing regime and has a cyclist detection and avoidance system to protect vulnerable road users,” Thatcham’s Avery said, adding that it offers “further reassurance to anyone with concerns about electric battery compromise in crashes.”
Nissan Leaf buying guide

Adult occupant rating 93%
Child occupant rating 86%
Vulnerable road user rating 71%
Safety assist rating 71%


8. Peugeot 508

Peugeot has placed greater emphasis on safety features in recent years, so it should come as no surprise that its 508 saloon and estate has impressed crash test assessors.

Thatcham was particularly impressed that it attained the second highest Adult Occupant Protection score (96%) of the year, and strong performance across all other judging categories. It also complimented the car on a very good Speed Assistance System, as well as optimal protection for child passengers in the rear.

The 508 is particularly good in minimising the effects of whiplash (claims for which cost British motorists £1bn a year in insurance claims), saying: “Tests on the front seats and head restraints demonstrated good protection against whiplash injuries in the event of a rear-end collision. A geometric assessment of the rear seats also indicated good whiplash protection.”
Peugeot 508 buying guide

Adult occupant rating 96%
Child occupant rating 86%
Vulnerable road user rating 71%
Safety assist rating 79%

9. Volvo V60/S60

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Volvo has arguably the best record in automotive safety of any manufacturer, having been responsible for many firsts in the field. It’s not resting on its laurels, either, with three new models launched in 2018 making it into this top 10.

Avery confirmed this, saying: “Every car Volvo has produced has achieved the maximum Euro NCAP star rating – and every car has featured at the top end of this list since it began in 2015.”

The duo of the S60 and V60 – the former is a saloon, the latter an estate – recorded some serious numbers in testing, with a 96% rating for Adult occupant protection, Euro NCAP saying: “For the driver, protection was good for all critical body regions.”
Volvo V60 buying guide

Adult occupant rating 96%
Child occupant rating 84%
Vulnerable road user rating 74%
Safety assist rating 76%

10. Volvo XC40

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The other Volvo that makes the list is the XC40 compact SUV, which is a hugely impressive car in many respects – not least in the field of safety.

Indeed, the XC40 came away from testing with the highest Adult Occupant Protection score of any car tested by Euro NCAP in 2018. Avery made a point of praising Volvo’s Pilot Assist system, fitted to the XC40, which combines Adaptive Cruise Control and Steering Support to hint at what autonomous cars could provide in a few years’ time.

Euro NCAP also highlighted the XC40’s active safety features in its assessment, saying: “The autonomous emergency braking system worked well in all test simulations of highway scenarios, losing only a fraction of a point. The standard-fit lane assistance system comprises Lane Keep Assistance, which warns the driver when the car is drifting out of lane and gently applies the steering to correct the path, and Emergency Lane Keeping, which intervenes much more aggressively in emergency situations, to keep the car on the road or from hitting another vehicle.”
Volvo XC404 buying guide

Adult occupant rating 97%
Child occupant rating 87%
Vulnerable road user rating 71%
Safety assist rating 76%


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