Best Buys safest cars: Crash test ratings suggest Volvo has the lead

A look at the cars which come out tops in the ratings


Safest: Volvo XC90

If you look at the XC90’s official EuroNCAP crash test rating, you’ll see that it has a 97 per cent score for adult protection, and an 87 per cent score for child protection. Assuredly, there are cars out there with higher (if only slightly) scores in these areas. So why are we saying that the XC90 is the safest? Simple - because, recently, UK-based crash test experts Thatcham said that in 15 years of this version and its predecessor being on sale, it could not find evidence of any occupant of an XC90 being killed in a road accident. Not one. That’s real-world safety that seems, on the face of it, unbeatable. The current XC90’s stable of electronic aids, including automatic emergency braking, lane-keeping and radar cruise control, and more should just add to that safety lustre.

Best model: D5 Powerpulse R-Design for €80,000 Price range: €74,250 to €130,250. Finance from €POA per month. Co2 emissions: 59 to 189g/km Sum up: Big, tasty, Swede

Worthy Contenders

Subaru XV

Subaru doesn’t get a lot of love from Irish car buyers (mostly down to prices that are just too high) but it does make some genuinely impressive cars, including the new XV which combines proper Subaru ruggedness with a dose more style than usual, and a much nicer cabin. It’s also impressively safe, posting a 94 per cent rating from EuroNCAP when it comes to adult occupant safety, and gaining a commendation from the NCAP experts for the EyeSight system. That’s a stereoscopic camera set at the top of the windscreen, which scans the road ahead and controls the cruise, the emergency braking, and more. It’s hugely effective, and seems to be less fussed about bad weather than most rival systems. The flat-four engine is also designed to slide back and down, under the cabin, in the event of a head-on collision. Add to that the XV’s standard four-wheel drive, and it should prove very adept at keeping you out of danger.

Best model: 2.0i SE CVT for €35,495 Price range: €33,495 to €38,495. Finance from €294 per month. Co2 emissions: 146 to 153g/km Sum up: Safe, reliable, and also quite rewarding to drive

Mercedes-Benz E-Class

A 95 per cent adult safety rating, and a 90 per cent child rating, means the E-Class scores big in the EuroNCAP crash test. Of course, these lab-based crash tests are hugely useful, but don’t tell the full story of what can happen in a crash out in the real world. Good thing, then, that along with Volvo, Mercedes is one of only two car makers that actually send out accident inspection teams to work with local police and emergency services, near the HQ in Stuttgart, to see what actually happens when a Benz has a bust-up on the road. It’s a policy which has consistently kept Mercedes at the top of the safety tree for decades, and the E-Class carries on that tradition rather nicely.

Best model: E220d AMG-Line estate for €55,420 Price range: €48,200 to €147,180. Finance from €561 per month. Co2 emissions: 80 to 225g/km Sum up: Sorted for E’s

Volkswagen Polo

Want to know what car actually beats the big Benz, by a margin of one per cent, in the adult occupant safety rating game? Yup, the humble (so to speak) VW Polo, which scores a 96 per cent adult safety rating from EuroNCAP. For the money, that’s basically unbeatable (it’s also one per cent ahead of the slightly cheaper, mechanically identical Seat Ibiza - perhaps the VW badge is just physically better at absorbing impacts?) and it meant that the Polo was awarded the safest car in its class award by EuroNCAP last year. You won’t be safer for less, that’s for sure.

Best model: Comfortline 1.0 75hp for €19,295 Price range: €16,795 to €32,395. Finance from €179 per month. Co2 emissions: 97 to 134g/km Sum up: As safe as the national mint