Euro NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme) was welcomed by drivers and met with muted resistance amongst the car makers. Brochures and impressive sounding technical descriptions counted for nothing: Euro NCAP bought popular cars, smashed them into a wall in a laboratory and measured and shared the devastation that followed.
Today, Euro NCAP is relied upon by the millions of new car buyers in Britain every year. They turn to the non-profit organisation for impartial and clear-cut information on which cars are safe and which could be dangerous.
But this approach is generally too complicated for most uses. In order to simplify things, Euro NCAP gives each car an overall star rating out of five. For example, the new Suzuki Swift has been given an impressive rating of four out of five stars.
To achieve a high overall rating, the car must deliver a balanced performance across all four areas: adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist.
So if a five-star car crashes into a three-star car, the five-star car will fare better?
That is not always the case as Euro NCAP assessments are carried out with a car's class in mind. That means large 4x4s aren’t compared directly to small city cars. As such, Euro NCAP results aren't always comparable.
Generally speaking, the taller a car is, the better it will fare in an accident. This is because a taller car will more heavily damage a lower car if they collide. As such, a three-star 4x4 might still come off better than a five-star city car if they crash into each other.
"But my car only scored three out of five stars?"