The latest Euro NCAP test results are out, providing drivers with the vital information they need to gauge how well new cars can cope in a crash. Of 17 new cars tested in the latest round, 11 were awarded the full five-star rating.
A number of lab condition-style tests are conducted and cars get used and abused to see whether, in a head on at 30mph you'll be flung out of the vehicle or kept safely in your seat resting on a delicious airbag. Each car tested is independently sourced from dealers so manufacturers can't give them an 'extra-safe' version of their car.
Last year the organisation tested 53 new vehicles. However, in 2011 not all the cars tested were 'normal' – the likes of the Nissan Leaf went under the microscope and managed an impressive five stars.
Five cars scored higher than all their contemporaries in the NCAP tests (more details on those here)... So, if you'll tap out a drum roll on your desks, the winners are:
Small off-road 4×4 category: Audi Q3
Supermini category: Chevrolet Aveo
Small Family category: Ford Focus
Small MPV category: Mercedes B Class
Large Family category: Volvo V60
Some manufacturers were honoured not only for their cars' crash performance but for their innovations in 2011. The Ford Focus was praised for its Active City Stop, Driver Alert Ford Alert and Lane Keeping Aid tech – all of which work together to keep drivers from nodding off, running people over and listing lazily to the left on the M6.
Mercedes' B-Class and Volvo's V60 were recognised for their Collision Prevention Assist and City Safety tech respectively. Both systems are Autonomous Emergency Braking systems (AEB) – which essentially stop you from running people over and smacking into the back of other vehicles.
Dr Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP Secretary General, commented: "With Euro NCAP Advanced, we have already recognized a number of technologies offering safety benefits to consumers. The safety case for AEB systems is very strong and we are therefore strongly encouraging manufacturers to increase the availability of such systems on new cars.
"We are well underway to add the assessment of these systems to the overall rating and to make these systems a requirement for five stars in the future."
This year the Euro NCAP test is set to get harder to ensure that manufacturers are still at the top of their safety game.