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The safest new cars on sale in the UK

Is safety your top priority when looking for your next car? Here are the ten safest new cars currently on sale in the UK.

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Providing peace of mind and protection in the event of an accident, car safety features will always be an important factor for many when car shopping, particularly for those who are looking for their next family runaround.

Cars of every shape and size are getting safer and safer too, thanks to the increasing standards of crash avoidance technology expected of every new model. Car manufacturers are now fitting their cheapest models with on-board safety systems that only expensive luxury cars had a decade or so ago, partly thanks to increasingly strict government rules.

But, even though safety standards for new cars are consistently climbing across the board in the UK, there are a few models that our Expert Rating Index singles out from the rest of the competition.

All holding five-star safety scores from independent crash tester Euro NCAP, the new cars listed below have been commended for their adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, vulnerable road user protection (mainly cyclists and pedestrians) and safety assistance technology (accident avoidance and mitigation), with high scores in each category.

How our safety rating scores are calculated

Our Safety Rating score uses a complex algorithm based on Euro NCAP testing results, using all four of Euro NCAP’s testing categories rather than just the headline score. This includes a complete breakdown of scores for adults, children, pedestrians and assist systems, so you can see the information that matters most to you.

Euro NCAP scores expire after six or seven years, as the scoring criteria gets tougher each year and cars that were tested several years ago can no longer be guaranteed of maintaining their initial score. A car may be re-tested if it’s still on sale, which happened in the case of the Tesla Model S below, although this doesn’t always happen.

Euro NCAP testing gets tougher almost every year, so a five-star score from 2019 doesn’t necessarily equate to a five-star result in 2024. To account for this, and to factor in the seven-year expiry period, our safety rating algorithm contains an age factor as well.

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Highlighted by our Expert Rating Index, all of these cars are fitted with features to both help prevent collisions and protect occupants if a crash can’t be avoided. These include autonomous emergency braking, software to detect driver fatigue and a system to notify emergency services when a crash happens.

Please note that the below list doesn’t include any new car that hasn’t been put through its paces by Euro NCAP, and thus some of the newest market entrants like the Volvo EX30 unfortunately have to sit this one out.

VehicleYear tesedAdult protectionChild protectionVulnerable road user protectionAssistance technology
1 Tesla Model S202294%91%85%98%
2 Tesla Model Y202297%87%82%98%
3 Lexus RX202290%87%89%91%
4 Mercedes-Benz EQE / Mercedes-AMG EQE202295%91%83%81%
5 Nissan X-Trail202291%90%70%95%
6 Volkswagen ID.7202395%88%83%80%
7 Smart #1202396%89%71%88%
8 Toyota bZ4X / Subaru Solterra202388%87%79%91%
9 BMW X1 / BMW iX1202286%89%76%92%
10 Mazda CX-60202288%91%89%76%
Source: Euro NCAP

1. Tesla Model S

Tesla Model S (2014 onwards) - overhead front

Safety Rating: A (100%)

It’s been on sale since 2014 – although with plenty of updates over the last decade – but the Tesla Model S is the safest new car you can buy in the UK today. Well, assuming you can afford £100K for a new car and are happy to have it in left-hand drive, because that’s the only version of the Model S you can still buy at the moment.

Originally tested back in 2014, the Model S was re-tested by Euro NCAP in 2022 and returned another outstanding set of scores. In particular, Tesla scores top marks for its exceptional safety assistance technology. This tech is crucial as – obviously – avoiding an accident altogether is better than surviving one.

It’s not, as Tesla describes, an autopilot function where the car can drive itself. But the combination of Tesla’s various tech systems as a safety net for the driver is better than anything else on sale.

The Tesla Model S currently holds a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 81% on our award-winning Expert Rating Index. That puts it jointly at the very top of the charts of the best new cars on sale.


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: November 2022
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 94%
Child protection: 91%
Vulnerable road users: 85%
Safety assist: 98%


2. Tesla Model Y

Tesla Model Y front view | Expert Rating

Safety Rating: 99% (A)

You’re looking at the world’s best-selling car in 2023. Not just the world’s best-selling electric car, but the most popular car of any kind across the whole planet. If you still have any doubts that the electric revolution is underway, the Tesla Model Y should end those now.

Like the Model S above, the Tesla Model Y aced its Euro NCAP safety tests in 2022. As with all Tesla vehicles, the driver-assistance technology is the best around, and the Model Y also scores the best-ever results for adult protection. The other scores, for children and other road users, are excellent as well.

The Tesla Model Y has received plenty of praise from the UK motoring media, and currently holds a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 81% on our unique Expert Rating Index.


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: September 2022
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 97%
Child protection: 87%
Vulnerable road users: 82%
Safety assist: 98%


3. Lexus RX

Lexus RX (2022 onwards) front view | Expert Rating

Safety Rating: 96% (A)

The fifth-generation Lexus RX SUV impressed Euro NCAP testers when it was put through its safety paces in late 2022, achieving high scores in every category. The car’s particular stand-out trait is its ‘vulnerable road user protection’ score (pedestrians and cyclists), which is the highest of any car on this list.

Winner of The Car Expert’s ‘Best Large SUV’ award last year, the Lexus RX holds a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 73%.


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: December 2022
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 90%
Child protection: 87%
Vulnerable road users: 89%
Safety assist: 91%


4. Mercedes-Benz EQE

Mercedes-Benz EQE front view | Expert Rating

Safety Rating: 93% (A)

The electric Mercedes-Benz EQE is another executive saloon held in high regard by Euro NCAP, with high safety scores in every category. The EQE also comes with Mercedes’ ‘Car-to-X Communication’ – award-winning software that allows cars to notify each other of hazards in real time to help prevent accidents.

The Mercedes-Benz EQE currently holds a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 76%.


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: October 2022
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 95%
Child protection: 91%
Vulnerable road users: 83%
Safety assist: 81%


5. Nissan X-Trail

Safety Rating: 92% (A)

While the fourth-generation Nissan X-Trail isn’t the most economical SUV on the market, it is certainly one of the safest, with its 2022 Euro NCAP test resulting in three category scores above 90%. It’s also the highest-ranked model available with traditional petrol power (with a mild-hybrid kick) on this list.

The Nissan X-Trail currently holds a New Car Expert Rating of B, with a score of 66%.


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: November 2022
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 91%
Child protection: 90%
Vulnerable road users: 70%
Safety assist: 95%


6. Volkswagen ID.7

Volkswagen ID.7 front view | Expert Rating

Safety Rating: 92% (A)

The most recent arrival on this safety leaderboard, the ID.7 is a sign of what’s to come from Volkswagen, including the brand’s latest safety tech. Euro NCAP commented that the large battery-powered saloon was one of the most impressive cars it tested in 2023, and gave the car a very high ‘adult occupant protection’ score.

The Volkswagen ID.7 currently holds a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 80% in our Expert Rating Index.


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: December 2023
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 95%
Child protection: 88%
Vulnerable road users: 83%
Safety assist: 80%


7. Smart #1

Smart #1 front view | Expert Rating

Safety Rating: 91% (A)

Formerly the manufacturer of pint-sized electric city cars, the launch of the #1 (pronounced as ‘Hashtag One’) was a fresh start for Smart – a mid-sized hatchback that achieved the brand’s highest ever Euro NCAP safety scores.

The Smart #1 currently holds a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 79%.


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: November 2022
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 96%
Child protection: 89%
Vulnerable road users: 71%
Safety assist: 88%


8. Toyota bZ4X (and Subaru Solterra)

Toyota bZ4X front view | Expert Rating
Toyota bZ4X
Subaru Solterra front view | Expert Rating
Subaru Solterra

Safety Rating: 91% (A)

The electric Toyota bZ4X and Subaru Solterra are twins, developed as a joint venture between the two companies. As a result, the two cars share the same five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP in 2022, and while the SUVs couldn’t quite match the Model Y’s impressive score sheet, a 91% ‘safety assistance technology’ score is the highest that either brand has ever achieved.

The Toyota bZ4X currently holds a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 79%.

The Subaru Solterra currently holds a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 74%.


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: November 2022
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 88%
Child protection: 87%
Vulnerable road users: 79%
Safety assist: 91%


9. BMW X1 (and BMW iX1)

BMW X1 (2022 - present) front view | Expert Rating

Safety Rating: 91% (A)

The third-generation BMW X1 passed its Euro NCAP examinations with flying colours in 2022, with a particularly impressive safety assistance technology score. This rating stands for petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid versions of the X1, as well as the all-electric iX1.

Both the BMW X1 and electric iX1 currently hold a New Car Expert Rating of A, with a score of 78%.


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: October 2022
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 86%
Child protection: 89%
Vulnerable road users: 76%
Safety assist: 92%


10. Mazda CX-60

Mazda CX-60 front view | Expert Rating

Safety Rating: 91% (A)

Mazda’s flagship SUV offering, the CX-60 has received plenty of reviewer praise for its long list of standard equipment, which also includes plenty of safety tech. When it comes to Euro NCAP scores, the Mazda is joint-top in the ‘child occupant protection’ and ‘vulnerable road user protection’ assessment categories.

The Mazda CX-60 currently holds a New Car Expert Rating of B, with a score of 68%.


Independent crash test and safety ratings from Euro NCAP

Overall score: 5 stars
Date tested: October 2022
Read the full Euro NCAP review

Adult protection: 88%
Child protection: 91%
Vulnerable road users: 89%
Safety assist: 76%


Honorable mentions

GWM Ora 03

GWM Ora 03

BYD Dolphin

BYD Dolphin

Nissan Ariya

Nissan Ariya

Hyundai Ioniq 6

Hyundai Ioniq 6

Honda Civic

Honda Civic

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

BMW 2 Series Active Tourer

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai Santa Fe

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Sean Rees
Sean Rees
Sean is the Deputy Editor at The Car Expert. A enthusiastic fan of motorsport and all things automotive, he is accredited by the Professional Publishers Association, and is now focused on helping those in car-buying need with independent and impartial advice.