Britain's independent research centre, Thatcham Research, has announced the safest new cars of 2017, and a long list of finalists for the What Car? Safety Award. Thatchem powers the award for the third year running, as part of its “safer cars, fewer crashes” mission.
This year’s tests have shown there is more choice than ever in choosing a safe car. As manufacturers continue to raise the safety bar, the British (and Irish ) public are safer on the roads than before.
The list of 10 cars taken from the 2016 Euro NCAP ratings all meet the strict criteria for the award, which includes track-based testing of collision avoidance systems and achieving a top marks in crash tests, all part of the five-star rating system.
Safety technology fitted to the vehicle must include autonomous emergency braking fitted as standard and some form of safety assist technology beyond NCAP assessment such as lane keeping systems. The cars are then judged on market relevance and value for money.
All 2017 long list finalists also feature pedestrian, low speed city and high speed inter-urban AEB as standard. A major step forward in safety for mainstream vehicles and in manufacturer commitment to safety, as Euro NCAP testing for pedestrian AEB was only introduced in January 2016.
The 2017 long list includes: the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Audi Q2, Ford Edge, Hyundai Ioniq, Mercedes-Benz E-Class, Peugeot 3008, Renault Scenic, Seat Ateca, Toyota Prius, and Volkswagen Tiguan.
All vehicles included in the list are remarkably similar in terms of specification and purchase price, with the Mercedes- Benz E-Class being the only more-expensive executive vehicle of the list.
Thatcham Research says it is committed to driving the adoption of safer cars at all price points, not just higher list price vehicles. The 2016 commended vehicle, the Honda Jazz, was highly praised as the first supermini to offer AEB as standard across all trim lines, at an accessible purchase price.
The list also includes vehicles which feature innovations which go above and beyond the current Euro NCAP testing, and offer major safety benefits:
Lane departure warning is fitted on most of the top ten (UK specs ) as standard, but most manufacturers also offer lane keep assist systems to actively steer the driver back into lane
For the first time, Ford has fitted AEB as standard across all trims of a new model – the Ford Edge
The Peugeot 3008 features intelligent speed adaption system on all trims, as standard. The speed limit recognition and recommendation system uses a windscreen mounted camera to detect and display the speed limit for the road on which the driver is travelling. In addition to making the driver aware of the speed limit, there is also the option to limit the vehicle to the posted speed limit, taking the stress out of long motorway roadworks
The Mercedes-Benz E-Class features a unique and highly innovative Junction Assistant system that can prevent side crashes at T-Junctions and intersections
The Toyota Prius offers reverse AEB. With 25 per cent of all crashes from parking, this is a system that can save one's wallet as well as deaths to small children unseen behind the vehicle while manoeuvring.
Vehicle segments continue to evolve with two hybrids in the top 10 showing the growing popularity of alternative fuel vehicles.The presence of four small SUV’s on the list, also demonstrate the growing market share of cross-overs, and 50 per cent of vehicles in the list, could be described as family wagons.
The overall Euro NCAP scores are however lower than last year, driven by tougher tests and the more mainstream nature of the vehicles involved. 2016’s winner, the Volvo XC90 achieved one of the highest scores ever in the history of the Euro NCAP test schemes history.
Last year's winner, the Volvo XC90 was revealed as the safest car on sale in Britain, with the Honda Jazz and Toyota Avensis commended as runners up.
The winner of the What Car? Safety Award 2017 will be announced on 11 January 2017.