Euro NCAP crash test ratings - how they work

We all hear about a car’s EuroNCAP rating, but what does the term actually mean? In simple terms, a EuroNCAP rating gives an indication of how safe a car is, the name coming from the European New Car Assessment Programme.

This independent body takes new cars and slams them into various walls and blocks, to see how they withstand impacts.  But it’s not just about a car’s strength; EuroNCAP also looks at what kit is fitted as standard, such as ESP (Electronic Stability Programme), seatbelt reminders and speed limiters. 

A EuroNCAP rating gives an indication of how safe a car is

Until 2009, all cars were awarded a star rating according to how well they looked after adult or child occupants, as well as how little damage they did to pedestrians.But the system has now changed so that just one rating is given to the car - which means that to get a five-star award, the car has to be fitted with lots of safety features, be very strong so it looks after its occupants both large and small and it also can't mangle pedestrians too much.

It’s this last one that’s the trickiest, as when a car hits a pedestrian, the car is pretty much guaranteed to win every time.

* Here's how crash testing used to be done; meanwhile, two of the most amazing videos we've ever seen are this one of a Holden Commodore being crash tested along with this one of a Chinese truck being slammed into a wall. The results are not pretty...