While autonomous cars may not be a showroom reality just yet, modern cars are packed with more safety gadgets than ever before. Kit protecting passengers no longer simply extends to anti-lock brakes and a few airbags – cars can now be bought with adaptive cruise control that maintains a safe distance behind the car in front and even self-braking kit that can stop you having a crash in the first place.
With self-braking software now able to recognise pedestrians, cyclists and even animals, there really is no excuse for having a crash in a brand new car – or at least that will be the case when all vehicles feature this technology. In the meantime, though, we’ve rounded up the top performers in 2015 crash tests, which offer extremely high safety levels for passengers.
Super-safe compact off-roader – Suzuki Vitara
Topping the new, tougher 2015 crash tests for adult passenger safety is the compact Suzuki Vitara ‘crossover’. Despite being barely any bigger than most hatchbacks the Vitara scored a very strong 89 per cent result for adult safety.
Suzuki’s engineers didn’t forget about younger passengers, though, with a score of 85 per cent for those in the back seats proving similarly impressive. Throw in good results for pedestrian safety and hazard avoidance tech, the Vitara definitely deserves its five-star EuroNCAP crash rating.
Large, safe hatchback and estate – Skoda Superb
The Skoda Superb may have come in for some stick with its name, but ‘Superb’ is a pretty accurate description of this Skoda’s performance when crash tested. The big hatchback may not be able to match the Vitara for adult passenger safety with a score of 86 per cent, but the Superb did sneak ahead for child safety with its 86 per cent result.
Throw in a solid performance in pedestrian and hazard avoidance tests and the Superb also secures a safe five-star score.
Sturdy new compact crossover – Fiat 500X
This new Fiat puts in a very similar performance to the Skoda for adult and child passenger safety with its strong cabin, proven by scores of 86 per cent and 85 per cent respectively.
The 500X also beats the Superb on the pedestrian safety score, though a less impressive result on the hazard avoidance test drags down its overall score to four-stars – lagging behind the five-star Superb and Vitara.
Pedestrian-protecting small hatchback – Mazda 2
Next in line is the Mazda 2 supermini. This sharply-styled hatchback may be unable to match the three models above for child safety ratings, but where it does beat them hands down is on the pedestrian side, with a rating of 84 per cent – higher than any other model tested under the current regime.
Adults should be pretty safe in the 2, though, thanks to a score of 86 per cent, while the 78 per cent rating for smaller passengers is still pretty impressive.
Strongly built supermini – Hyundai i20
With its adult safety score of 85 per cent the i20 sits just one per cent behind the Superb, 500X and 2. Where it performed less well, however, is with child safety, with those in the back seats being less well protected than the other models tested.
It’s a different story on the pedestrian safety side, though, with a 79 per cent score comparing very positively compared with rivals – enough to bag it a four-star rating.