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  • Euro NCAP Explained: How Car Safety Ratings Work

Euro NCAP Explained: How Car Safety Ratings Work

We put a lot of trust in our cars; from short, around-town journeys like the school run, to longer trips further afield, we rely on them to get us from A to B safely. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life on the roads often proving unpredictable, an accident can happen in seconds, and it’s important to know that your car is equipped to minimise the impact on all involved if it does. The safety of the vehicles we sell here at EMG is something our customers often ask about, so we know how important it is to motorists today. 

With this in mind, what consumers need is an easy way to compare the ability of models on both the new and used market to keep drivers, passengers and other road users safe; this is where Euro NCAP comes in! 

What is Euro NCAP? 

Started back in 1997 as a body independent of any car manufacturer, Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) rates each model that comes onto the market by putting it through a series of their own crash tests in order to award them a safety score out of 5 stars. 

Today, you can use their website to search the make and model of the car you’re interested in buying, and it will give you the Euro NCAP rating for the vehicle. It’s designed to be straightforward and easy to understand, allowing you to directly compare models on your search for a new car.

How does Euro NCAP test each car? 

Euro NCAP prides itself on the rigorous crash tests it uses to test a vehicle’s mettle, and this is how the organisation arrives at each rating. By keeping up with the latest developments in car safety technology, they’re able to take into account the overall protection provided to occupants, other road users, and pedestrians not only by the standard safety considerations, but also this clever tech too. 

To determine the real-world impact of collisions on people travelling inside the vehicle as well as those outside of it, tests remain as true to life as possible, covering all bases to give a rounded assessment. This includes the use of adult and child-sized dummies fitted with sensors to give a true picture of what the impact would be if they were real humans. It’s serious stuff! 

By reviewing tests on an annual basis, Euro NCAP can expire a car’s rating if it would no longer perform under updated criteria.  

Below are the areas of car safety that are tested by Euro NCAP… 

Adult occupant protection

To assess the protection provided by cars to adults travelling inside, frontal and lateral impact as well as whiplash tests are carried out in eventualities such as side crashes, head-on collisions with other cars, and impact from the rear. 

Tests also cover the speed and ease with which an adult occupant can be rescued - including their extraction from the vehicle. 

Child occupant protection

Assessing the measures taken to ensure the safety of children within the car in the event of a crash is a big part of the Euro NCAP rating process. To properly assess a car’s safety for child occupants, child dummies are used to gauge the impact in a real-life collision, enabling Euro NCAP to assess neck loads, head movement, and chest accelerations. 

Tests extend to the suitability of child restraints - if you’re a parent, you’ll know that installing a child seat can sometimes be a tricky business! The correct and easy installation of a child restraint is more likely to reduce injury in the event of an accident - invaluable for a parent’s peace of mind. 

Vulnerable road users

This area of Euro NCAP’s safety tests used to be named ‘Pedestrian Protection’, but this was upgraded to include the safety of cyclists too. This assesses the impact that the car would have on the head, pelvis, upper and lower leg of the vulnerable road user. 

Any Autonomous Emergency Braking system present is put through its paces around cyclists too, as these systems detect imminent impact and brake on your behalf. 

Safety assistance technology

At EMG, we know all about how clever our cars have become in terms of their safety features, and how they support safe driving, help prevent accidents, and minimise the impact if a collision does occur. These features can include speed assistance, blind spot monitoring and occupant monitoring systems, so Euro NCAP ensures that the efficacy of these measures are fully assessed on each car they test. 

How important is the Euro NCAP safety rating? 

No manufacturer is able to release a model that doesn’t stand up to legal safety standards, and it’s important to note that Euro NCAP ratings are categorised into classes - so in theory, the height of a 4x4 could make it likely to come off better in a collision with a small hatchback, even if the hatchback had a higher safety rating. Check out how the star ratings work in the handy chart below: 

5 stars The car performs with overall excellent crash protection, and is well equipped with thorough and robust crash avoidance technology
4 stars

The car performs with overall good crash protection; additional crash avoidance technology may be present

3 stars The car has at least average occupant protection, but it isn’t always equipped with the latest crash avoidance technology. 
2 stars Nominal crash protection is provided, but the car lacks crash avoidance technology
1 star There is marginal crash protection, and there isn’t much crash avoidance technology if any.
0 stars The car meets the type-approval standards so it can legally be sold, but it lacks critical modern safety technology.

5-star safety rated cars at EMG

At EMG in East Anglia, you can find a whole host of 5-star rated cars so you can get behind the wheel of a vehicle that has your safety as its priority. We’re proud to represent Kia, Mazda, MG and Nissan, whose 5-star rated vehicles include the Kia Sportage, Mazda CX-60, MG ZS EV, and the Nissan Leaf. Give us a call today with any questions you have about the safety of the vehicles we sell, and we’ll be happy to help.