Safety first, so the saying goes, and we agree. When it comes to buying a car, there aren't many of us who don't look at safety as one of the most important factors to consider. We've put together a run-down of the safest cars on the market, as judged by the European New Car Assessment Program.
The NCAP score cars in four categories, Adult Protection, Child Protection, Pedestrian Safety, and Safety Assist Systems. To test the car's protection of adults and children, the NCAP hit the car with numerous front and side-on collisions, and see whether the dummies inside survive or not. For the car's Pedestrian Safety, they crash the car into dummies, looking at how well the structure and crumple zones absorb the impact. Safety Assist Systems is simply what the NCAP calls the technology that helps prevent a crash from happening in the first place (ABS, for example).
By far, the safest car on the road today is the Volvo V40, scoring higher than any other car the NCAP have ever tested. It's very impressive, but we're not hugely surprised. Volvo have built themselves a legacy of car safety over the years (including inventing the child car seat). The V40 scores well in all categories - 98 percent in Adult Protection, 75 percent in Child Protection, 100 percent in Safety Assist Systems, and a record 88 percent in Pedestrian Safety, thanks to an innovative pedestrian airbag. The Volvo V40 is so safe, it is capable of breaking by itself if it realises you're about to crash. At the risk of repeating ourselves, the Volvo V40 isn't just the safest car of its type or its year. It's officially the safest car. Anywhere. Ever.
"The Volvo V40. Probably safer than staying in bed."
Four years down the line, and the BMW 5 Series is still the safest executive car you can buy. 100 percent in Safety Assist Systems due to traction and stability control, 95 percent in Adult Protection, six airbags, and yet further safety options (at a premium), mean that there isn't really any contest. The 5 Series is safer than any executive saloon out this year in every category. There's even a night-vision package available, where your headlights will automatically identify pedestrians and highlight them with a separate beam of light.
It's also worth mentioning the BMW 3 Series. While not quite as safe as the 5 Series, the 3 Series is still an impeccably safe ride. Having said that, it's not as swish or as comfortable - get the 5 Series.