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Euro NCAP – what does it all mean?

Euro NCAP crash test results are referred to with the release of almost every new car. They’re a key selling point. But what do all those star ratings actually mean?

Well, let’s start with a definition. Euro NCAP stands for “The European New Car Assessment Programme”. It was founded in 1997 to assess the safety performance in a given number of crash tests for new automobiles.

However, all new vehicles that go on sale are required to pass a legal minimum standard of safety. So, if cars are deemed fit for purpose in the event of a crash by law, why do we need Euro NCAP?

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Well, the Brussels-based organisation’s aim is to push manufacturers to exceed the minimum levels of safety required, furthering crash protection for both occupants and pedestrians, as well as active and passive vehicle safety measures.

The organisation puts nearly all new cars through their paces, publishing the results of the crash tests on the Euro NCAP website giving each car a star rating out of five: five being the best, nought being the worst.

Euro NCAP child logo

The test involves a frontal impact into an offset deformable barrier performed at 40mph, designed to replicate an off-set ‘head-on’ crash with a vehicle of similar size and mass travelling in the opposite direction. Statistics show this is a typical smash on a single carriageway road.There’s also a side impact test performed at 31mph to simulate a car being T-boned at a junction, as well as a side impact pole test – this time carried out at 18mph – to represent a collision with any roadside furniture following a spin.

Euro NCAP pedestrian logo

The final experiment is a pedestrian collision test at 25mph to test a vehicle’s energy absorption abilities and pedestrian-friendly characteristics in the event of hitting a human being.

Vehicles are scored out of 100 for their achievements in adult and child occupancy protection, as well pedestrian impact safety and safety assist – the latter term referring to the amount of safety-related equipment and technology the car possesses.The tests aren’t mandatory but provide great insight into just how safe that potential new car of yours is. It’s certainly worth consulting if you’re in the market for a new vehicle.

At T W White & Sons are on hand to help you understand the Euro NCAP performance of all the cars we sell – but unfortunately we decline any requests to demonstrate the crashes!