Auto advice: The Euro NCAP explained — and how does your car rate for safety?

Our motoring editor answers your questions on how the industry scheme keeps motorists and passengers safe

Euro NCAP tests are designed to represent important real-life accident scenarios

Geraldine Herbert

What is Euro NCAP?

The European New Car Assessment Programme is a voluntary car-safety performance-assessment programme that was formed in 1996 to help consumers, their families and businesses compare vehicles more easily and to help them identify the safest choice for their needs.

What do they test? The safety rating is determined from a series of vehicle tests, designed and carried out by Euro NCAP. These tests are designed to represent important real-life accident scenarios that could result in injured or killed car occupants or other road users and are based on assessment in four areas:

1) Adult-occupant protection evaluates the protection of adult driver and passengers offered by the vehicle.

2) Child-occupant protection covers the protection offered by the child-restraint systems in the frontal and side-impact tests, the vehicle’s ability to accommodate child restraints of various sizes and designs, and the availability of provisions for the safe transport of children in the car.

3) Vulnerable-road-user protection assesses how well cars protect their occupants and how well they protect pedestrians and cyclists with whom they might collide.

4) The safety-assist score is determined from tests to the most important driver-assist technologies that support safe driving to avoid and mitigate accidents.

What do the results mean? A five-star rating means a car has overall excellent performance in crash protection and is well equipped with comprehensive and robust crash-avoidance technology.

Four stars indicate overall good performance in crash protection and all-round, additional crash-avoidance technology may be present.

Three stars means the car offers at least average occupant protection but is not always equipped with the latest crash-avoidance features.

Two stars means only nominal crash protection is available but the car is lacking crash-avoidance technology.

One star means the car offers only marginal crash protection and little in the way of crash-avoidance technology.

Top TipThe number of stars reflects how well the car performs in Euro NCAP tests, and is influenced by what safety equipment the vehicle manufacturer is offering in each market.

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