What are Euro NCAP ratings? New car safety explained

What are Euro NCAP ratings? New car safety explained

When looking to lease or buy a new car, chances are you will have heard the phrase ‘Euro NCAP Rating’ in regard to how safe the vehicle is. But what is it? And how can it help ensure you and your loved ones are protected? In the latest Brake blog; Mike Best from ContractHireAndLeasing.com discusses the ins and out of the safety rating and the rigorous tests the cars go through to attain it.

Euro New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) is an organisation formed in 1997 to test cars for safety. Prior to its establishment, customers had to solely rely on a manufacturer’s reputation along with the safety features of the brand and model to make a buying decision based on safety.

In order to provide impartial testing and advice, the members of Euro NCAP buy cars anonymously and conduct independent tests away from manufactures to produce their rating, and in the 19 years since its formation the reputation of the rating has grown to such a point that a five star test result is considered almost mandatory for any new car.

The Euro NCAP Rating

The Euro NCAP assessments are carried out with the car’s class in mind - meaning an SUV isn’t comparable to a city car – and with all these tests completed, a car is given an overall star rating out of five. These are broken down to the following specs.

* Minimal crash protection
** Nominal crash protection, lacks crash avoidance technology
*** Average protection of occupants, lacks crash avoidance technology
**** Good level of crash protection, additional crash avoidance technology may be present
***** Good level of crash protection, thoroughly equipped with robust crash protection

In order to attain a Euro NCAP rating a car must undergo several tests, with each one designed to mimic real world accidents. The range of tests include:

Front Impact

This test involves the car crashing into a barrier at 40mph. It assesses its resistance to impact by looking at airbags, seatbelts and the structural strength of the car to see how protected the occupants are.

Car Side Impact

This test involves the car being struck by a simulated vehicle from the side, generally where the occupants can enter and exit. The car will be at a stand-still and the simulated vehicle will be moving and any injuries to the crash-test dummies are recorded.

Pole Side Impact

This test simulates what will happen to the car if control is lost and it skids into a tree or lamp-post. This is similar to the Car Side Impact test, but differs as the car is moving rather than the object. Again, the impact is recorded where the occupants can enter and exit.

Pedestrian Protection

An integral part of the Euro NCAP rating is how pedestrians are protected by the car design. This test involves a collision with an adult and child test dummy and assesses the level of damage they sustain on their legs and head.

Child Protection

Using test dummies to mimic an 18-month-old toddler and a three-year-old child, this test is performed to see how well child safety seats are accommodated by the automobile.


Whiplash is one of the most common injuries sustained when in an accident, so it is an integral part of the Euro NCAP test. The test will look at head restraints and general car design in order to test the level of whiplash.

Emergency Braking

Though relatively new technology, Euro NCAP tests autonomous emergency braking on three types of road in order to simulate urban, rural and motorway braking. This lets them see how well the autonomous braking works on the roads and the ability to prevent serious crashes.

Electronic Stability Control

This test is based on a double lane change manoeuvre, with the steering manoeuvre compared to the steering input at 50mph.

Seat Belt Reminder

Prompts for passengers and the driver to put their seatbelt on have been shown to increase their use. As such, Euro NCAP rewards manufacturers who promote this.

Speed Assistance

This test encompasses a variety of different safety functions such as informing the driver of the current speed limit, warning the driver when they are over the limit, and actively preventing the car from exceeding the limit.

As stated, these tests are all performed with adult or child crash test dummies in the car or as pedestrians. These are used to simulate what would happen to your body if you were involved in a crash, and each dummy is packed with sensors that can provide detailed feedback on potential injury to every single part of the body from head to toe.

In Conclusion

The Euro NCAP rating provides a thorough, independent, and comparative assessment of new car safety to both occupants and pedestrians. Its star rating system remains all-encompassing, with each technological innovation made by manufacturers and as such it can be trusted 100%. Remember though, safe driving is just as essential in even the safest of cars.

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Thursday, 02 April 2020

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