REVEALED: the five safest drives of 2021

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  • Year’s best performers across tough Euro NCAP and Thatcham Research testing revealed
  • Expert panel focuses on affordable cars that will deliver biggest benefits to road safety
  • Electric Vehicles (EVs) and Hybrids continue to impress ahead of 2030 ban on new ICE vehicles

Thatcham Research has revealed the UK’s safest new cars of 2021, with EV and Hybrid models demonstrating impressive safety advancements ahead of the 2030 ban on new Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) sales.

Making a positive impact this year are the safety-conscious EQS from Mercedes-EQ, Nissan’s popular Qashqai, and the all-electric Enyaq by Škoda. Also featured are the Volvo-derived Polestar 2 and the hybrid-electric Toyota Yaris Cross.

Expert judges favoured affordable vehicles that will bring the biggest safety benefits to the greatest number of drivers. Of particular importance were robust ‘active’ crash-avoidance systems, effective ‘passive’ occupant protection features, well-delivered driver interface technology, and a commitment to standard fitment across the range.

Matthew Avery, Chief Research Strategy Officer, Thatcham Research comments: “It’s fantastic to see carmakers continuing to prioritise safety, with all but four vehicles tested by Euro NCAP in 2021 achieving a four or five-star rating. Most are rising to the safety challenge and it’s encouraging to note EVs are performing very well as a group too.

“As well as the development of active safety technology to help avoid crashes and protect vulnerable road users, we also welcome the continued introduction of passive safety innovations such as centre-airbags, which prevent occupants from colliding into one another during side impacts.”

Selections will now form the shortlist for the 2022 What Car? Safety Award, sponsored by Thatcham Research. The overall winner and two runners up will be revealed on 20 January.

The expert panel of judges who selected 2021’s safest cars includes: Thatcham Research’s Matthew Avery; Claire Evans, What Car? Consumer Editor; Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP Secretary General; and Loughborough University’s Pete Thomas, Emeritus Professor in Road and Vehicle Safety.

Claire Evans, comments on the nominees: “The great news for consumers is that the shortlisted models demonstrate that cars don’t have to be hugely expensive to be kitted out with the latest safety equipment. The Qashqai and Yaris are affordable, popular models that will sell in large numbers and so enhancing road safety for their buyers and other road users. It’s also reassuring to see that specifically designed pure electric models, such as the Enyaq and Polestar 2 have impressive all-round safety credentials.”

Click HERE to learn more about the five safest cars of the year.