Safety has become one of the greatest car marketing tools. I know, I fell for it. When I was buying a car to coincide with the arrival of my baby daughter, the EuroNCAP website first port of call when assembling a shortlist.

I needed something small but built like Fort Knox. At the time, only a few superminis possessed five-star NCAP ratings, a fact which helped to distinguish the few that did. There were plenty of other factors behind my eventual purchase of a Mercedes A-Class, but the fact it possessed five stars certainly played a big part in selling it to me..

But now I fear that EuroNCAP is in danger of losing its meaning. The big news from yesterday's release of results is the fact that Toyota's Urban Cruiser has been awarded a lowly three-star rating. That was certainly a shock - not least for the company's own safety engineers.

But behind the big headline the more telling story is that nine out of the 11 cars tested earned the maximum five-star rating.

Indeed, as Toyota has discovered, it has become more of a story when a car fails to collect one than when it wins the top accolade. NCAP seems to be a victim of its own success, with entire market segments now consisting of wall-to-wall five-star ratings.