With car safety at the top of so many car shopping lists we were eagerly awaiting the What Car? Safety Awards of 2016. We rate these awards highly because:
1/ They are the only ones to be independently selected by the experts at Thatcham Research, in conjunction with a hand-picked panel of safety authorities.
2/ Their safety shortlist is underpinned by a 5 star Euro NCAP rating indicating good performance in crash protection and well equipped with robust crash avoidance technology.
3/ Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is a must for award winners and the judges give further credit for additional, innovative and unique safety equipment.
NB: AEB is a system to monitor the traffic conditions ahead and automatically brake the car in an emergency situation if the driver fails to respond. Rather than protecting the occupant in the event of a crash like the seatbelt and the airbag, AEB aims to prevent the crash happening in the first place avoiding all the associated misery and cost. It is also the sign of things to come – 37% of all new cars launched in 2015 have AEB available as standard (compared to a previous 17%) and another 36% as optional (compared to 24%).
4/ The price is a factor too whereby those manufacturers that make safety accessible to many not just a few are marked higher.
About Thatcham Research
In case you don’t know what they do, Thatcham Research is the motor insurers’ automotive research centre, researching, testing and providing insurers with a wealth of data on all new vehicles. The insurers can then rate risk more accurately. As the UK’s only accredited Euro NCAP crash test centre and one of the key overall contributors to the Euro NCAP consumer safety testing programme, Thatcham is ideally positioned to select Britain’s safest car.
The safest car award selection process
All seventeen award candidates were assessed as follows.
i/ They must have 5 star Euro NCAP star rating and standard fit Autonomous Emergency Braking on at least one trim level within the model range.
ii/ The Thatcham-assembled panel of experts all analyse each car’s adult, child and pedestrian protection scores from NCAP, assessing where and how effectively the AEB system worked and giving further credit for additional and unique safety equipment and innovation.
iii/ Cars are then marked down if safety kit was available on cars outside the UK but not in the UK.
iv/ Finally, a weighting was applied to do with the price of the vehicle in that competitively priced cars were rewarded (more than expensive ones) for bringing safety to more buyers.
Who are the What Car? Safety Award Winners?
The Overall Winner was the Volvo XC90. With Volvo’s long standing reputation you’d expect them to be a contender for any safety award, however the XC90 in particular has proved to be head and shoulders above the rest with its high levels of active and passive safety making it Euro NCAP’s highest scoring car ever.
Evidently Volvo has raised the bar with this car, going beyond what is currently part of the standard safety evaluation to offer a unique package of safety features including pedestrian and cyclist recognition auto braking, run-off road protection and rear collision alert.
There were two runners up
For under £14,000 the Jazz gets you standard fit Autonomous Emergency Braking across the full range whilst ‘one touch’ speed limiting, also standard, is unique in this ‘Supermini’ class of vehicle. With other safety technologies like Lane Departure Warning and traffic sign recognition also available the Jazz offers a high level of safety at an attractive price.
Plus the Toyota Avensis which is highly commended and provides fleet buyers and families alike with a very high level of protection at a reasonable price.
Toyota is another manufacturer who has gone beyond what is currently tested by safety bodies to provide many standard fit crash prevention features, as well as accommodating the very latest I-Size child seats. Meanwhile advanced technologies like Lane Departure Warning and low and high speed Autonomous Emergency Braking are available across the majority of the range.