Vehicles gearing up for safety award accolade

12.00 | 8 December 2015 | | 3 comments


A 17 car shortlist has been released as the race hots up to be crowned Britain’s safest car at the annual What Car? Car of the Year Awards ceremony.

The shortlisted cars*, from 14 different manufacturers, will be assessed before three are selected by Thatcham Research and an independent panel of safety experts, with the winner announced at the ceremony in January 2016.

Now in its second year, the safety award recognises cars with a five Euro NCAP star rating and available for consumers to buy in the UK from January 2016.

Euro NCAP introduced the overall safety rating in 2009. To achieve a high overall rating the car must deliver a balanced performance across all four areas: adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist.

The 2015 winner was the Land Rover Discovery Sport, with the Nissan Qashqai and the Volkswagen Passat coming second and third respectively.

The initial long-listed contenders will be assessed against stringent safety factors including adult occupant protection, safety assist and child occupant protection. Judges will further consider additional safety innovations such as new collision avoidance technologies and pedestrian protection, including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, said: “Improved protection for drivers and passengers has helped lower the UK’s road death toll significantly over the past 20 years. This year’s long list of contenders shows that active safety systems like AEB, which are proven to reduce accident claims by 38%, are increasingly being fitted as standard.

“From January 2016, Euro NCAP testing will assess the performance of AEB systems in recognising and braking to avoid pedestrians. In 2018 a similar test will be introduced around cyclists. Vehicles that are not effective in these scenarios will find the sought-after 5 star rating increasingly difficult to attain.

“The What Car? Safety Award is a unique way for consumers to select safer cars and identify the best of the best; understanding how they are protected inside the car in the event of a crash; and how accidents can actually be avoided in the first place.”

Jim Holder, What Car?’s editorial director, added: “Safety is one of the key concerns for new car buyers, particularly if the vehicle in question is to be used as the main mode of family transport. What Car? believes it important that such a key consideration is reflected in our Car of the Year Awards.

“Not only does the Safety Award highlight the incredible, yet often unsung, work manufacturers do, it also allows us to both commend and encourage it.”

*Shortlist in full
Audi A4, Audi Q7, BMW X1, Honda HR-V, Honda Jazz, Hyundai Tucson, Infiniti Q30, Jaguar XE, Jaguar XF, Lexus RX, Mercedes-Benz GLC, Skoda Superb, Suzuki Vitara, Toyota Avensis, Vauxhall Astra, VW Touran, Volvo XC90.



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    Am I the only person to notice that the ‘safest’ cars are often bought by the worst drivers? Safety has much more to do with the manner in which a vehicle is driven than its design. Would you rather be hit by a car designed to be pedestrian-friendly in a collision, or not to be hit by an outdated banger of a car?

    Like Idris, I applaud the advances made, but we seem to be in the midst of a safety arms race. I feel that more emphasis should be placed on a driver being responsible for his/her vehicle’s safety, but that would not sell many cars, would it?

    David, Suffolk
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    Some, if not all, of the vehicles listed are designed and manufactured to be capable of unnecesarily high top speeds and acceleration – perhaps Euro NCAP should take this into consideration when rating them for ‘safety’ and downgrade them accordingly…. it might make the manufacturers (and customers) take a step back and re-think what’s actually important.

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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    Much as I welcome the enormous increases in car safety that have been achieved since I learned to drive in 1957 in a 1935 Austin 10 costing £20 – shared between 5 of us – I sometimes despair of all the attempts to identify and declare “the winner” when so many of the factors determining that choice are subjective in relative importance, even if they can be sensibly measured.

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
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