British safety organisation Thatcham Research has revealed the 10 cars in the running for the What Car? Safety Award 2019. Expert judges are now assessing the finalists and will announce the overall winner later this month.
“It’s clear that occupants of the latest cars are at a lower risk than ever,” said Thatcham Research director Matthew Avery. “But we’re not resting on our laurels, and raised the bar in safety testing for 2018. “This means the 10 cars in this longlist are some of the safest ever made, anywhere in the world.”
How is the Safety Award 2019 assessed?
The safety award is judged on a number of criteria. Overall Euro NCAP crash-test rating comes into it: a five-star rating goes without saying, and they should offer the very highest safety standards, not just for driver protection, but also for the front passenger and rear-seated children. Performance in the new Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) tests is also ranked.
The judges look at what sort of advanced safety systems are available, such as adaptive cruise control, speed recognition and control, and steering support. These tech features are “the first step towards vehicle automation,” says Thatcham Research.
Finally, and significantly, overall UK sales volume in the UK is assessed. In other words, will the car make a real impact on road safety for a large number of people? Here is the shortlist: the overall winner will be announced on January 22.
The Audi A6 achieved an impressive set of results when it was crash tested by Euro NCAP, including 93 percent for adult occupant safety and 81 percent for pedestrian safety – the latter being the third highest score of 2018. Opt for the Tour package for active lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control.
“Audi has two models in the list, which is testament to the brand’s excellent track record in producing five-star Euro NCAP cars. The Audi A6 has many safety features, including a pop-up bonnet, to protect pedestrians and cyclists in the event of a collision,” says Thatcham Research.
The Audi Q3 remains a standout performer in an increasingly crowded sector, with a rock solid image helping to elevate it above its compact SUV rivals. Prices start from just under £31,000, but this cost soon goes up once you’ve added some must-have options and accessories.
“The second highest overall Euro NCAP score (87 percent) in 2018, very good performance in crash testing and the highest score overall (85 percent) for crash avoidance technology. One of the year’s stand-out performers,” says Thatcham Research.
The 2018 Ford Focus features an unprecedented number of electronic driver aids, many of which are available via one of a number of option packs. For example, the Driver Assistance pack includes adaptive cruise control, while the Convenience pack boasts a rear-view camera, pop-out door protectors and active park assist.
“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, it’s AEB system performed just as well as some of the more expensive buys in the longlist, too. It is also fitted with a class-leading Driver Assistance System, to support steering and braking,” says Thatcham Research.
The I-Pace is a landmark car, not just for Jaguar, but for the EV industry as a whole. It’s great to look at, drives well and, crucially, offers just shy of 300 miles of range. A safety award would be the icing on the cake for this tasty EV.
“One of two Electric Vehicles among our 10 safest cars of the year, successfully allaying concerns around the safety performance of electric vehicles. Very high Adult Occupant Protection (94 percent) and crash avoidance technology (81 percent) scores, too,” says Thatcham Research.
Euro NCAP named the Lexus ES the best performing model in the Large Family Car and Hybrid and Electric Car categories in 2018, which bodes well for a What Car? Safety Award in 2019. The impressive Lexus Safety System+ is fitted as standard to all ES models sold in the UK.
“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,” says Thatcham Research.
The new A-Class promises to shake up the premium hatchback segment, boasting an exceptional interior, a superb infotainment system and the kind of tech normally reserved for the S-Class. This nomination proves that you don’t need to buy a large car or SUV to maximise safety.
“Top level safety, with the second-lowest price tag in the list. The only car in the top 10 to reach 90 percent 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,” says Thatcham Research.
The second of two electric cars to make the cut, the Nissan Leaf scored well for adult and child occupant safety, but the scores for pedestrian safety and technology were more solid than standout. With an increasing number of EVs entering the market in 2019, the Leaf faces a fight for supremacy.
“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. Another electric vehicle in the top 10, offering further reassurance to anyone with concerns about electric battery compromise in crashes,” says Thatcham Research.
The Peugeot 508 is an impressive family car that has what it takes to steal sales from the premium cars in its segment. Autonomous emergency braking is standard across the range, with adaptive cruise control available on the top trim levels.
“The second highest Adult Occupant Protection score (96 percent) of the year, and strong performance across all other judging categories. A very good Speed Assistance System too, along with optimal protection for child passengers in the rear,” says Thatcham Research.
Volvo S60 and V60
You’d expect a Volvo to be in the running for a safety award and the Swedish brand has secured two berths as it aims for glory. There are two cars for the price of one here, so it all comes down to whether you fancy your Volvo in saloon or estate flavour.
“Every car Volvo has produced has achieved the maximum Euro NCAP star rating, and every car has featured at the top end of the Safety Award longlist since it began in 2015. The Volvo V60 / S60 is of course no different, with an Adult Occupant Protection score of 96 percent,” says Thatcham Research.
We’re not betting people, but if we were, we’d stick a few quid on the Volvo XC40 rolling away with this award. Not that it needs any further recognition – the XC40 has won just about every automotive award under the sun. Deservedly so, because this is a mightily impressive SUV.
“The XC40, Volvo’s offering in the burgeoning small SUV market, offers the highest Adult Occupant Protection score of any car tested last year. It’s ‘Pilot Assist’ system, combining Adaptive Cruise Control and Steering Support, is also very good,” says Thatcham Research.