What is the Euro New Car Assessment Programme?
The Euro New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) has been designed to offer consumer information on the safety of new cars.
While Euro NCAP can’t test every single new car, or its variants, offered by a manufacturer, it aims to provide a broad range of advice on a selection of popular models. Generally, these are new cars that have just entered the market, but it can also test cars already available.
How Euro NCAP works
Using a five-star safety rating system, the programme helps consumers and businesses to compare vehicles more easily. As a result of this, they can identify the safest car for their needs.
Euro NCAP carries out a series of vehicle tests to determine a safety rating. The tests are based on real-life accident scenarios that could result in injury to the car’s occupants or other road users.
Understanding the Euro NCAP star rating
The five-star rating system reflects how well the vehicle performs in Euro NCAP tests and is also influenced by the safety equipment the vehicle’s manufacturer offers.
Therefore, the number of stars represents positive test results – and that the safety equipment on the tested model is available to all consumers in Europe.
The star rating looks beyond legal requirements. For example, a car that just meets the minimum legal criteria would not be eligible for any stars. What this means is that while the car may not be unsafe, there are more safe options on the market.
Essentially, if you’re looking for a safe car, the more stars, the better. Here’s what each rating level represents:
5-star: Overall good performance in crash protection. Well equipped with robust crash avoidance technology.
4-star: Overall good performance in crash protection; additional crash avoidance technology may be present.
3-star: Average to good occupant protection but lacking crash avoidance technology.
2-star: Nominal crash protection but lacking crash avoidance technology.
1-star: Marginal crash protection.
How the Euro NCAP tests evolve
As new technology brings greater safety features, the tests are regularly updated, and the star levels adjusted.
This means that you should take into account the year of the test as this is essential for the accurate interpretation of the results. The latest star rating is always the most relevant.
For instance, the recent inclusion of emerging crash avoidance technology has changed the meaning of the stars considerably.
What dual ratings mean
Some vehicles will have two different star ratings. One is based on a car fitted only with safety equipment that’s standard on every variant in the model range throughout EU28. This rating reflects the minimum level of safety you can normally expect from any car sold anywhere in the EU. All cars assessed by Euro NCAP have this basic safety rating.
The next rating is based on a car with additional safety equipment that’s offered as an add-on option to the consumer. This extra safety equipment could increase the vehicle’s safety rating, but obviously only applies if the additional equipment is included on the car.
By comparing two different ratings for the same car, the buyer can easily see the benefits the additional equipment brings.
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