‘Safest cars’ awards analysed for 2017

  • About to buy a new car – hang on there!
  • 2016 vehicles the safest in history
  • Tougher tests for 2017 – which will win?
BEING POSITIVE ABOUT SAFEST CARS: These are the Top 10 finalists for the UK's 'Safest Car of the Year' award in conjunction with Thatcham Research and What Car? Image: Thatcham Research / Newspress
BEING POSITIVE ABOUT SAFEST CARS: These are the Top 10 finalists for the UK’s ‘Safest Car of the Year’ award in conjunction with Thatcham Research and What Car? Image: Thatcham Research / Newspress


LOOKING AT the market for a new car in 2017? There are at least three good things going for you if you are – sales are down (which means your possible discount is up), prices for good used cars are up (more money for a down-payment) and modern new cars are the safest yet to hit (bad choice of words, but what the heck) the roads.

Prices you can decide yourself but the crash-avoidance and protection systems in modern cars have never been better – in fact we doubt there’s much else that can be done apart from better driver-training and the coming of autonomous vehicles.

CLICK HERE to see what the judges are looking for, and why the XC90 won in 2016.

But then, of course, there’s that quote from Charles H Duell, Commissioner of the US Patent Office in 1899, whose famous attributed utterance was “everything that can be invented, has been invented.” (Comma inserted by The Corner.) There are others, however…


Indisputable today is that Britain’s independent Thatcham Research has named its 10 safest new cars for 2017 – not all of them available in South Africa – and a long list of finalists for What Car? Safety Awards, the third year of such publication as part of its “safer cars, fewer crashes” mission.

Tests through 2016 (for 2017), Thatcham reported, have shown there is now more choice than ever in choosing a safe car – though The Corner would prefer the term ‘crash-protective’ car because no automaker can do much to counter stupid driving – though some cars can now override the driver’s action (or non-action) in an emergency.

“As manufacturers continue to raise the safety bar,” Thatcham said, “the UK public are safer on UK roads than ever before.” You can extend that to the bottom of Africa…

Each of the list of 10 cars taken from the 2016 Euro NCAP ratings meets the strict criteria for the award, which includes track-based testing of collision avoidance systems and achieving a top marks in crash tests – all part of the five-star rating system.

The ‘safest car’ winner will be announced on January 11 2017.


In short, safety technology fitted to the vehicle must include autonomous emergency braking) fitted as standard and some form of safety-assistance technology beyond the NCAP requirements – such as lane-keeping camera. The cars are then judged on market relevance and value for money.

All 2017 long-list finalists also feature pedestrian, low-speed city and high-speed inter-urban autonomous automatic braking as standard. A major step forward in safety for mainstream vehicles and in manufacturers’ commitments to safety was Euro NCAP testing for pedestrian AEB introduced in January 2016.

The 2017 long list includes:
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Audi Q2
Ford Edge
Hyundai Ioniq
Mercedes-Benz E-Class
Peugeot 3008
Renault Scenic
Seat Ateca
Toyota Prius
VW Tiguan

All vehicles included in the long list are remarkably similar in specification and price – the Mercedes- Benz E-Class being the only more-expensive executive vehicle on the list. Thatcham says it is committed to driving the adoption of safer cars at all price points, not just higher list price vehicles, and the 2016 ‘ommended’ vehicle is the Honda Jazz, highly praised as the first supermini with AEB on all models.

The long list also includes vehicles with innovations beyond the current Euro NCAP testing and offer major safety benefits. These are: Lane Departure Warning (on most of the top 10 as standard, though most automakers also offer Lane Keep Assist which nudges the steering back into lane – though it can be overridden by the driver.


For the first time, Ford has fitted AEB to all Ford Edge models.
The Peugeot 3008 has Intelligent Speed Adaption (cruise-control that maintains a set distance behind the vehicle ahead) standard on all trims. The Speed Limit Recognition and Recommendation system uses a windscreen mounted camera to detect and display the speed limit for the road on which the driver is travelling.

In addition to making the driver aware of the speed limit, there is also the option to limit the vehicle to the posted speed limit, taking the stress out of long motorway roadworks.

The Toyota Prius has Reverse AEB; 25% of all crashes occur while parking so this is a system that can save your wallet as well as, possibly, the life of an unnoticed child.

There are two hybrids in the top 10 showing the growing popularity of alternative-fuel vehicles and the four small SUV’s on the list show the growing market share of cross-overs, and half of the vehicles in the list could be described as family wagons.


Thatcham Research’s chief executive, Peter Shaw, told The Corner in a media release: “These 10 vehicles represent some of the safest cars on sale in the UK and we’re delighted to see that by raising awareness of the important issues surrounding vehicle safety automakers are starting to rise to the challenge by making standard fitting of safety/protection measures across all models, regardless of segment or price.”

Steve Huntingford, What Car (UK)?’s editor, says: “Safety is a key consideration for new-car buyers, particularly for family transport. It’s important to reflect that by presenting a stand-alone safety award and having Thatcham on the judging panel gives that award a unique credibility.

“Nobody has more experience in this field.”

Overall, the 2016 Euro NCAP scores were lower than the previous year – but that’s because the tests were tougher and more mainstream vehicles were involved.


The 2016 winner, Volvo’s XC90, achieved one of the highest scores yet in the history of Euro NCAP testing history. The car has also been revealed as the safest car on sale in the UK, with the Honda Jazz and Toyota Avensis commended as making up the top three.

The overall winner of the What Car? Safety Award 2017 will be announced on January 11 2017.


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