Proof that new cars are getting safer: every model tried in the latest round of Euro NCAP tests scored four or five stars for passenger protection. However, two other tests have highlighted how dangerous the same cars can be for pedestrians and for whiplash injuries.
The Europe-wide car safety assessment programme tested a mixed bag of cars, including the Citroën C2 and Ford Focus C-Max; all were found to protect occupants well in an accident. Best performance were the VW Touran and Renault Scénic.
However, five cars - the new Audi A3, Jeep Cherokee, Mazda 6, Renault Kangoo and Toyota Previa - scored a dismal one star for protecting pedestrians. Euro NCAP also launched new ratings to test the ease of use and effectiveness of child seats.
Seperately, the Thatcham motor research centre also announced the results of its whiplash test, which measures the protection provided by head restraints. Among the best tested here were the BMW 7-series, Ford Mondeo, and the VW Golf Mk5 / Touran, making a hat-trick of test successes for Volkswagen's mini-MPV. At the bottom end of the scale for whiplash protection were Alfa's 156, the Daewoo Matiz, and the Land Rover Freelander, amongst others.
More than 200,000 Brits suffer whiplash every year and most injuries could be avoided by using a correctly adjusted head restraint.