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What is Euro NCAP and how safe is my car?

Our guide to Euro NCAP and why its rating system matters to you and your car

A close up of a man and a dog through the window of a car

Euro NCAP is an independent safety body that provides ratings for car safety. It awards models up to five stars based on its tests, so buyers know just how safe their car is.

Looking up the Euro NCAP rating of your car is a good way of understanding the amount of safety kit in your car, how it performs in crash testing, and how safe it is for pedestrians and cyclists.

What does Euro NCAP stand for?

Euro NCAP stands for New Car Assessment Programme – and it does what it says on the tin.

The main function of Euro NCAP is to provide motorists with the safety ratings of new cars based on its rigorous tests.

How does Euro NCAP test for car safety?

Euro NCAP tests the safety of a car by crash-testing vehicles to rate how they perform.

While NCAP can’t test every single new car on the market each year, it makes a yearly selection of the most popular and interesting models.

Up to four cars are needed for an NCAP assessment, and these are generally bought anonymously by the organisation, straight from the dealer.

Organisations that are members of Euro NCAP sponsor at least one car model per year, and these models will then be tested for safety.

They might choose vehicles that are relevant to their own organisation, and vehicle manufacturers can sponsor their own models.

What do the Euro NCAP stars mean?

Euro NCAP rates each model it tests using its five-star system, with five stars being awarded to the safest vehicles.

  • Five stars: the car has performed excellently in crash protection and comes with a full range of crash avoidance tech

  • Four stars: the car has given a good performance in crash protection, and there may be some extra crash avoidance tech included

  • Three stars: the car gets at least the average occupant protection, but might not have the latest crash avoidance tech

  • Two stars: lacking in crash avoidance tech, but does offer a small amount of crash protection

  • One star: very little crash avoidance kit in this car, with marginal crash protection

  • Zero stars: meets type-approval safety standards, but lacks in modern safety tech

How can I find my car's Euro NCAP rating?

To find out the safety rating of your car or a car you’re planning to buy, head over to the Euro NCAP website.

It has all of its safety ratings free to view and displays its latest ratings on the homepage.

The Euro NCAP tests have become even stricter over time, so it’s much tougher to score that top five-star rating than it used to be.

You might want to consider this when buying a used car, as a safety rating awarded to a newer car might seem harsher than the scores awarded to older models.

Which cars have a five-star Euro NCAP rating?

The Volkswagen Golf, Volkswagen Polo, Kia Sportage, and Mercedes-Benz C Class are all popular models that were recently awarded a five-star Euro NCAP rating.

The BMW X1, Seat Ibiza, and the Mazda CX-60 also have five stars, while the Kia Niro gets four stars (five stars with the safety pack) and the Peugeot 308 gets four stars too.

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