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Crash testers name their best-performing cars of 2016

Toyota, Hyundai and Volkswagen earn praise from Euro NCAP.

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While the end of the year brings a clutch of awards in the automotive world, those from Euro NCAP will mean more than most to the average motorist.

The safety body has announced its three best-in-class accolades from the 18 new models it subjected to crash tests in 2016.

The Toyota Prius topped the large family car category, the Hyundai Ioniq was the best small family car and the Volkswagen Tiguan was named best small off-roader.

Also effectively ‘best in class’ was the Mercedes-Benz E-Class, but it was the only executive car tested. However Euro NCAP states that it performed well and was especially noted for its exceptional performance in child occupant protection.

“With an automatic passenger airbag disabling system and excellent dynamic test results, it is clear that Daimler has invested greatly in an area of assessment recently made more demanding by Euro NCAP,” the testers say.

The best-in-class accolades are even more relevant as the year saw some significant changes to Euro NCAP’s ratings scheme, with the automotive industry reacting accordingly.

The Toyota Prius took one of three best-in-class accolades.

For example, the inclusion of tests for pedestrian-detecting autonomous braking systems drove a huge increase in the fitting of technology described by the testers as ‘life-saving.’

While some manufacturers offers such systems as an option, it was good to see many fitting it as standard equipment. The Prius was the first car to undergo tests of its AEB Pedestrian technology – its standard-fitted safety pack, ‘Toyota Safety Sense’, performed well and managed to recognise and avoid or reduce the severity of potential crashes with pedestrians.

Euro NCAP testers also highlighted the excellent performance of the new SEAT Ateca in these tests.

The best in class accolade was based solely on cars tested with safety measures supplied as standard equipment. However EuroNCAP points out that several manufacturers are now taking advantage of its newly introduced dual rating system, which awards a second star total to cars when they are fitted with safety equipment available as options.

Many makers specify safety packs as options, these usually including the auto-braking technology often with pedestrian protection included. EuroNCAP performed such tests on superminis, small family cars and one pickup – the Suzuki Ignis, for example scored three stars in standard form and a top five stars with its Dual Camera brake support system, standard on top models, optional on others.

According to Euro NCAP secretary general, Michiel van Ratingen, the safety body recognizes that some technologies are expensive and it may not be possible for manufacturers to include them as standard equipment across the range and, at the same time, keep entry-level cars affordable for the target market.

“The dual rating scheme lets them phase in sales more gradually, keeping cars affordable but, at the same time, giving consumers the chance to take advantage of these important safety technologies – we’re pleased to see such a broad uptake of pedestrian-detecting AEB systems in 2016, as standard or as an option,” van Ratingen says.

Here enduring a side impact, the Hyundai Ioniq also earned crash-test praise.

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.