What are the Safest New Cars?

We take a look at the latest round of Euro NCAP tests to find out just what the safest cars on the market are right now.

Euro NCAP is a programme for assessing the crash test performance of new cars sold in Europe and new cars have been tested to ever-evolving Euro NCAP standards since the mid-nineties. Generally, cars are rated using a star system — five stars indicates excellent crash test behaviour while zero or one stars is poor. While it’s harder than ever for manufacturers to achieve a five-star rating, gone are the days when five stars were only awarded to high-end luxury cars; lately, cars as diverse as the advanced Mercedes EQS and humble Volkswagen Polo have awarded five stars underscoring how important a strong safety rating has become to manufacturers and consumers.

Euro NCAP assesses cars across a range of metrics including:

  • Adult occupant protection, which assesses how well fully-grown people are protected in a crash.
  • Child occupant protection, which assesses how well children are protected in a crash.
  • Vulnerable road users, which assesses how pedestrians and cyclists fare if they are hit by the car.
  • Safety assist, which looks at what active and passive safety technology is fitted to a car, and how well it performs.

The car being assessed is given a percentage score in each area, all of which is used to calculate an overall score and thus a star rating. Below, we take a look at some of the cars awarded five stars under Euro NCAP in 2022, though obviously, cars that performed well in 2021 — cars such as the Nissan Qashqai, Polestar 2 and Subaru Outback — remain just as safe as they were last year.

Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y Ireland

Adult protection: 97%
Child protection: 87%
Vulnerable road users: 82%
Safety assist: 98%

Tesla’s latest model scored well across the board with its adult protection and safety assistance technology aimed at preventing accidents garnering it particular praise. The Model Y is a fine, fast and roomy car that also happens to have the big benefits of being both electric and very safe.

Lexus NX

Lexus NX Ireland

Adult protection: 91%
Child protection: 87%
Vulnerable road users: 83%
Safety assist: 91%

Scores of 91 per cent apiece for adult protection and safety assistance marks a strong result for the hybrid Lexus. The looks won’t be to everyone’s taste, but this is undeniably a safe and well-made car, with the fit and finish leaving very little to be desired.

Mercedes EQE

Mercedes EQE

Adult protection: 95%
Child protection: 91%
Vulnerable road users: 83%
Safety assist: 81%

Whereas the Tesla’s biggest strengths lay in protecting adult occupants and crash prevention, the Mercedes EQE scored best for protecting both adults and children. The EQE is the smaller sibling to the larger and highly advanced EQS, Mercedes’ electric flagship and, as such, is also packed full of tech.

Mercedes C-Class

Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Adult protection: 93%
Child protection: 89%
Vulnerable road users: 80%
Safety assist: 82%

The Mercedes C-Class is likely to be a much more popular car in Ireland than the EQE (as it’s priced lower), so while its NCAP rating is very slightly down on the bigger, more expensive car, it’s good to know that the C-Class is still safe, particularly in the areas of occupant protection.

Mazda CX60

Mazda CX-60

Adult protection: 88%
Child protection: 91%
Vulnerable road users: 89%
Safety assist: 76%

Mazda’s big plug-in hybrid SUV arrived this year and scored very well for both occupant protection and sparing vulnerable road users the worst effects of any collision. Not that its score on safety assist was a poor showing per se, but 76 per cent suggests that the company still has a bit of work to do now and into the future on hardware and software development if it wants to keep up those five-star ratings.

Volvo C40 Recharge

Volvo C40

Adult protection: 92%
Child protection: 89%
Vulnerable road users: 70%
Safety assist: 89%

Volvo has long majored on safety and its upcoming electric replacement for the XC90 SUV is set to be its safest car yet. The C40 Recharge continues that tradition with high scores for occupant protection and safety assist marred slightly by a none-too-strong 70 per cent for protecting vulnerable road users, which is a little disappointing from a Volvo.

Cupra Born

Cupra Born

Adult protection: 93%
Child protection: 89%
Vulnerable road users: 73%
Safety assist: 80%

The Cupra Born is sometimes dubbed the world’s first electric hot hatch and it’s a similar car in many ways to the Volkswagen ID.3 with which it shares its platform and powertrain. It’s a much sportier prospect though and quite a safe one at that with strong scores for occupant protection and decent (though not stellar) performances on the vulnerable road user and safety assistance fronts. The Born did well in the side-barrier impact test with the head restraints also providing good whiplash protection. 

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

Adult protection: 88%
Child protection: 81%
Vulnerable road users: 79%
Safety assist: 92%

A front-wheel-drive MPV from BMW? Heresy, surely? Maybe, but the 2 Series Active Tourer has proven a good seller for the German company, and the latest version to be tested scored well and evenly across all four areas of assessment. It failed to dazzle in any particular area, but it’s still a five-star car and thus very safe for families.


Adult protection: 86%
Child protection: 89%
Vulnerable road users: 76%
Safety assist: 92%

Like the 2 Series Active Tourer, BMW’s smallest SUV earned a highly respectable score and a full five stars, though protection for vulnerable road users did leave some room for improvement. The latest generation of X1 has recently gone sale in Ireland in both electric and combustion-powered versions.

Kia EV6

Kia EV6 Ireland

Adult protection: 90%
Child protection: 86%
Vulnerable road users: 64%
Safety assist: 87%

The Kia EV6 comes with a combination of good looks, tech and well-executed powertrains; it’s a safe car too judging by the latest round of NCAP results. The EV6 was let down by its mediocre level of ability when it comes to protecting vulnerable road users, but for occupants it scored highly enough on adult protection, child protection and safety assistance to still garner it a full five stars.