It’s now ten years since the ubiquitous Euro NCAP crash tests were introduced and as motorists we should all be grateful that they now exist.
In the early days of testing some cars demonstrated truly appalling crash performance scores. The worst performer for occupant safety of all time was the Rover 100, achieving just one star for protection in frontal and side impact. As a consequence some police forces refused to use them and many mothers moved away from child minders who ferried children around in them.
Despite some initial resistance from motor manufacturers to the crash-testing programme they soon started to put the Euro NCAP tests at the heart of their new car designs and as a result scores started to rise. Comparing some of the early results with the equivalent models toady the progress has been both swift and dramatic. For example the Fiat Punto and Renault Clio both scored two stars in occupant protection in 1997 but five stars in 2005. Similarly the Ford Fiesta and Nissan Micra also scored two stars for occupant protection in 1997 but 4 stars in 2003. And what of the Rover 100 which scored one star in 1997? It went out of production soon afterwards and was never re-tested.
And the news this week that the new Citroën C6 executive saloon just became the first car in the world to be awarded a maximum 4 star Euro NCAP pedestrian safety rating, as well as a maximum 5 stars for occupant protection (making it arguably the safest car on the road), confirms that the Euro NCAP crash tests are here to stay.
The clever Citroen boasts an Active Bonnet system, which reduces the likelihood of a serious head injury for the pedestrian. In addition it also offers nine airbags, active head restraints and ESP with traction control as standard plus a Lane Departure Warning System and xenon directional headlamps.
Whilst the Citroen C6 may not be the biggest selling car in the UK next year, one thing is for sure - by pushing safety standards to a new level other manufacturers are bound to follow. Which in my opinion is good news for drivers, passengers and pedestrians alike.