• Euro NCAP reveals the safest cars currently available
• Advanced safety technology forcing stricter testing
• Three star Dacia Duster is 2011’s poorest performing car

Euro NCAP has published results of safety tests carried out on 53 new cars over 2011, revealing the safest passenger vehicles on the market and the best in each class.

To be awarded a best in class rating, cars not only had to achieve a five-star rating, but also score highly in each of the four areas of safety assessment: adult occupant, child occupant, pedestrian and safety assist, which assesses the safety equipment fitted to each car.

The best cars in each class were:

Small off-road 4×4: Audi Q3
Supermini: Chevrolet Aveo
Small family: Ford Focus
Small MPV: Mercedes B Class
Large Family: Volvo V60

Runners-up included the Chevrolet Malibu, Mercedes M Class, Toyota Yaris, Lexus CT 200h, Hyundai ix20 and BMW X1. The lowest result was three stars, and was awarded to the Dacia Duster which goes on sale in the UK in January 2013.

Highlighting the trend towards cleaner motoring, Euro NCAP tested four electric cars, of which the Nissan Leaf was awarded a maximum five stars, while the Renault Fluence ZE, Peugeot iOn and Mitsubishi i-MIEV each scored four stars.

Euro NCAP also rewarded cars featuring safety technology so advanced that it is not yet included in the rating scheme. The Ford Focus came in for particular praise, being the first volume selling car to receive four awards. Its Active City Stop, which senses impending collisions at low speeds and stops the car, Forward Alert, which warns drivers of potential obstacles and Lane Keeping Aid, which applies small amounts of steering correction to prevent drivers wandering out of lane, all helped ensure its best in class status.

The Mercedes B Class and Volvo V60 were also singled out for awards for their Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems, which apply the brakes automatically to mitigate collisions.

Speaking on the advancements in safety technology, Dr. Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP Secretary General said: “The safety case for AEB systems is very strong and we are therefore strongly encouraging manufacturers to increase the availability of such systems on new cars.

“We are well underway to add the assessment of these systems to the overall rating and to make these systems a requirement for five stars in the future.”

This year manufacturers will face even stricter safety tests, with Euro NCAP having raised the minimum score in pedestrian safety assessment from 40% to 60%, in a nod to the progression made in this area in recent years.

By Daljinder Nagra