What are the Euro NCAP Tests?
The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) tests vehicles and awards stars to reflect how well that vehicle has performed in safety tests. The safer the vehicle, the more stars are awarded, up to a maximum of 5.
What do Euro NCAP Stars mean?
The stars awarded by NCAP reflect the performance of the vehicle in safety testing and also considers the safety equipment available. If a car received 5* it would indicate a good performance in safety tests and a good level of safety equipment available across Europe. A vehicle being awarded 1* would be offering marginal crash protection.
The star rating used goes far beyond the safety measures required by law. If a vehicle was to meet only the minimal level of safety outlined in the law it would not receive any stars at all. Vehicles without any Euro NCAP stars are not necessarily unsafe, these just do not provide any additional safety features and are less safe compared to competitors with more stars.
Which tests are included in star ratings?
The tests performed are always evolving to take account of advances in safety technology. In 2018 the tests were changed to include tests on autonomous emergency braking systems when the vehicle in front is offside to the left or right instead of just straight on.
It also changed the tests in pedestrian protection to ensure autonomous braking systems can perform in night time situations and can also recognise cyclists.
This everchanging nature of the EURO NCAP tests mean it is important not to compare test data from different years. For example, a car which received a 5* score in 2018 is very likely to make use of far more advanced safety technology than a car which received a 5* rating in 2010.
The first car to go through the new 2018 tests was the New Nissan Leaf and it was awarded a 5* rating.
Tests are split up into 4 key areas
1. Adult Occupation Protection
In these tests the protection of the driver and passenger in frontal and side impact crashes is tested, alongside the potential for whiplash.
2. Child Occupation Protection
A vehicle's ability to accommodate a range of child seats in different sizes and shape is assessed in these tests along with the protection offered by the car seat during a frontal and side impact.
3. Vulnerable Road User Protection
These tests include safety for pedestrians and cyclists. The risk of injury to the head, pelvis and legs of a pedestrian in a crash situation are assessed as well as how well an autonomous braking system can detect and respond to a pedestrian or cyclist.
4. Safety Assist
This set of tests looks at important driver aids available such as electronic stabilty control, seatbelt reminders, lane support or speed assistance.
The vehicle tested will be given a score for each area, these together will make up the overall star rating.
Is every car tested by Euro NCAP?
It would not be possible for every car and every variant to be tested. Every year a selection of cars are picked. These vehicles may be new to the market, already on sale, not yet on sale, or particularly interesting or popular models. Euro NCAP members sponsor the testing of a least one model every year and manufacturers can also sponsor their own models.
When deciding which variant of a car to test EURO NCAP may ask the manufacturer for details on the most popular variant and which variant has safety equipment fitted that is available across Europe to help decide.
Testing centres are located across Europe. In the UK our test centre is at the Thatcham Research Centre in Berkshire.
Why do some cars have 2 different ratings?
There are some vehicles which end up with 2 ratings, these dual ratings were introduced in 2016. One rating will reflect the testing outcome using the safety equipment available as standard on all models, the other will reflect testing when optional safety packs have been added. This provides consumers with further information, showing how much impact spending extra on a 'safety package' will have.
For example, in 2017 the standard Kia Stonic was tested and received a 3* rating. The Kia Stonic with a safety pack was also tested and received a 5* rating.
You can check the Euro NCAP star rating help for any vehicle on their website.
How important is the Euro NCAP safety rating to you when choosing a new car?
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