EuroNCAP ratings - what do they really mean?

A car's full five-star safety rating from EuroNCAP is something that manufacturers are incredibly proud of, and drivers can also trust in the security of their vehicle. The independent testing body recently changed their criteria, making it more difficult for cars to gain high scores.

There are legal minimum requirements for car safety, and EuroNCAP's aim is to make sure that carmakers exceed these basic standards as a matter of course. Their tests go above and beyond the minimum in a wide range of areas, including front and side impact protection, pedestrian safety and child safety.

You might be most familiar with the front crash test, which sends cars head-on into a barrier at 40mph. It replicates one of the most common impact situations on UK roads, and tests the integrity of the passenger cell and the security of the seatbelts. In the side impact test, the vehicle is struck at the mid-point of the side doors by a barrier travelling at 30mph.

EuroNCAP also introduced a pole test in 2000 to mimic the effects of colliding with a lamppost or similar obstacle, specifically to test head protection airbags.

Child passenger protection is covered by the front impact test and a child seat installation check. The majority of new cars come with ISOFIX attachments for car seats, and the front passenger airbag can be deactivated for added safety.

In pedestrian safety testing, the front end of the car and the bonnet are judged on their ability to deflect and prevent harm to the head in particular. A dummy is fired at the car at 25mph, and both adult and child sizes are used to test various points across the front.

If you'd like more details on the safety rating and features of any new car, please contact your local Lookers dealership.