10 of the safest new cars on the market

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Safety should be one of the key considerations when buying a new car, yet it's often overlooked with the focus instead on style, equipment, performance and economy.

Safest-cars-collage

The good news is that cars are safer than ever, not just in terms of the way they’re constructed, but the latest technical wizardry available to help prevent accidents.

Naturally, car owners with families are some of the most safety conscious buyers, valuing driver assistance equipment such as anti-lock brakes (ABS), electronic stability programmes (ESP) and lane-departure warning systems, plus autonomous emergency braking (AEB), which kicks in automatically to alert a driver, helping to prevent a collision. 

The vast majority of new cars are tested by Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme), an independent organisation which performs a range of crash tests and rates each car in four critical areas:

  1. Adult occupant protection
  2. Child occupant protection
  3. Vulnerable road user protection
  4. Safety assistance

Cars are given a star rating (the maximum is five) and a percentage score for each of the four areas.

Using Euro NCAP's free online 'How safe is your car?' online tool, we've chosen 10 of the safest new cars on the market in 2019 based primarily on adult occupant protection, though the scores in the other three areas tend to be correspondingly high.

All the cars listed below have been launched in 2019, all have high levels of safety equipment as standard, and all gained a maximum five stars.

1) Mazda3

Mazda3

The all-new fourth-generation Mazda3 isn't just one of the design highlights of 2019 – with its excellent refinement, good handling and generous safety and equipment levels, it’s a class act.

It achieved the highest Euro NCAP rating for Adult Occupant Safety (98%) this year and has been praised for its new Cruising & Traffic Support system which assists with accelerator, brake and steering input to reduce fatigue in traffic jams.

As standard, it gets autonomous emergency braking (AEB), blind spot monitoring, rear cross traffic alert and intelligent speed control.

  • Adult occupant rating: 98%
  • Child occupant rating: 87%
  • Vulnerable road user rating: 81%
  • Safety assist rating: 73%

2) Seat Tarraco

SEAT-Tarraco

The Tarraco seven-seater is the big brother to Seat’s other successful SUVs – the Arona and Ateca SUVs. Based on the same platform as the Skoda Kodiaq and Volkswagen Tiguan Allspace, it's sharper looking, sportier and surprisingly engaging to drive.

Scoring an exceptional 97% in the adult occupant category, maximum points were awarded during the side barrier test for children. AEB, lane assist and automatic emergency call are fitted as standard.

  • Adult occupant rating: 97%
  • Child occupant rating: 84%
  • Vulnerable road user rating: 79%
  • Safety assist rating: 79%

3) Volkswagen T-Cross

Volkswagen-T-Cross

The new T-Cross is the smallest SUV in the VW range, slotting in below the T-Roc and Tiguan. Practical, funky, well-equipped and competitively priced, it’s a quality product and competes with other urban crossovers including the Kia Stonic, Seat Arona, Nissan Juke and Renault Captur.

With another 97% score for adult occupant protection, it offers strong protection in the event of a crash. As standard, the T-Cross gets AEB with pedestrian detection, plus lane keeping assistance.

  • Adult occupant rating: 97%
  • Child occupant rating: 86%
  • Vulnerable road user rating: 81%
  • Safety assist rating: 80%

4) Skoda Scala

Skoda-Scala

The all-new Skoda Scala squares up against the Ford Focus, Kia Ceed and Vauxhall Astra hatchbacks, offering a serious amount of space including the biggest boot in this class.

Scoring 97% and 87% for adult and child occupant protection respectively, it was rated highly in the safety assist category as well, scoring 75% thanks to a high level of standard safety kit including autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist and automatic emergency call if you are unfortunate enough to be involved in an accident.

  • Adult occupant rating: 97%
  • Child occupant rating: 87%
  • Vulnerable road user rating: 81%
  • Safety assist rating: 76%

5) Lexus UX

Lexus-UX

The new Lexus UX (Urban Crossover) is the baby of the Japanese premium brand’s SUV family, slotting in below the RX and NX in the range. Compact, classy, comfortable and economical, it’s engaging to drive, distinctive and oozes badge appeal.

Autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control (it automatically adjusts your speed to keep you a safe distance from the car in front), lane keep assist and road sign assist (it reads speed signs and adjusts your speed) are all standard.

  • Adult occupant rating: 96%
  • Child occupant rating: 85%
  • Vulnerable road user rating: 82%
  • Safety assist rating: 77%

6) Renault Clio

Renault-Clio

The latest Renault Clio is the fifth-generation model, and though it looks very similar to its predecessor from the outside, it’s actually all-new.

Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research – the UK’s only Euro NCAP accredited crash testing centre – was impressed, saying it’s “now one of the safest affordable cars on the market, achieving the highest Adult Occupant Protection Score seen in the supermini category since the VW Polo in 2017”.

He added: “The Advanced driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) that come with the model, such as the Highway & Traffic Jam Companion and Easy Park Assist, also make it a standout performer at this price point.”

  • Adult occupant rating: 96%
  • Child occupant rating: 89%
  • Vulnerable road user rating: 72%
  • Safety assist rating: 75%

7) Mercedes-Benz B-Class

Mercedes-Benz-B-Class

Just like the previous generation B-Class people carrier, the new model may not score heavily when it comes to style, but it’s certainly safe, spacious and classy.

Packed with safety kit, AEB, crash responsive emergency lighting, lane-keep assist, plus front and rear parking sensors are standard.

  • Adult occupant rating: 96%
  • Child occupant rating: 90%
  • Vulnerable road user rating: 78%
  • Safety assist rating: 75%

8) Tesla Model 3

Tesla-Model-3

Tesla's most affordable electric car yet has finally made it over to the UK. About the same size as a BMW 3 Series, it’s sleek and futuristic to look at, while its cockpit is dominated by a huge 15-inch landscape touchscreen.

When tested, it set a new safety technology benchmark. Matthew Avery of Thatcham Research said: “The Tesla Model 3 achieved one of the highest Safety Assist scores we have seen to date. Its Collision Avoidance Assist system is first class, with its Autonomous Emergency Braking and Forward Collision Warning systems showing high levels of performance.”

  • Adult occupant rating: 96%
  • Child occupant rating: 85%
  • Vulnerable road user rating: 74%
  • Safety assist rating: 94%

9) Toyota Corolla

Toyota-Corolla

The Toyota Corolla is back in the UK after a 15-year absence and doing battle with the likes of the Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Honda Civic in the highly-competitive family hatchback sector.

The good news is it's better than ever, especially in hybrid form, and it's loaded with safety kit. As standard, it gets autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, lane-keep assist, automatic high-beam lights and traffic sign recognition.

  • Adult occupant rating: 95%
  • Child occupant rating: 84%
  • Vulnerable road user rating: 86%
  • Safety assist rating: 77%

10) Range Rover Evoque

Range-Rover-Evoque

The new Range Rover Evoque is a bit of a revelation – a real step-up from an already fine car. Stylish, classy, refined and offering a surprisingly dynamic driving experience, it has improved in every department. It’s also blessed with Land Rover’s legendary off-road ability.

Standard safety equipment includes AEB, hill decent control and land-keep assist. In Euro NCAP tests it achieved a high Adult Occupant Protection score of 94%, while offering a suite of standard-fit collision avoidance technology.

  • Adult occupant rating: 94%
  • Child occupant rating: 87%
  • Vulnerable road user rating: 72%
  • Safety assist rating: 73%

We’ve chosen 10 new cars that scored exceptionally well in recent crash testing. Dozens of others have also been awarded a maximum five stars over the years, though it should be remembered that Euro NCAP makes its tests more rigorous and demanding every year.

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