Volkswagen ID.7 balances safety and driveability to scoop coveted What Car? Safety Award
What car winner-ID7

Volkswagen ID.7 balances safety and driveability to scoop coveted What Car? Safety Award

  • Volkswagen scoops Safety Award at annual What Car? Car of the Year awards, held in London
  • ID.7 featured positive ADAS implementation and scored 95% in Euro NCAP adult occupant safety testing
  • Strong-performing BMW 5 Series and BYD SEAL named runners-up
Volkswagen’s ID.7 has been awarded the 2024 What Car? Safety Award. The result was confirmed at the annual What Car? Car of the Year Awards in London. 

The ID.7 emerged victorious from a five-car shortlist, with all vehicles selected based on their five-star Euro NCAP test scores. They were then assessed by the What Car? judging panel [1] on criteria such as active and passive safety [2] technology innovation, vulnerable road user (VRU) [3] protection and the on-road driving performance of their advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS).

Following an on-road review by Thatcham Research’s experts, the ID.7’s ADAS performance demonstrated a collaborative approach to safety system integration alongside its excellent Euro NCAP score. This represents a positive progression for Volkswagen, which has previously received mixed reviews for the performance of some of its ADAS features, focused largely on its lane keeping system.

It also boasts a variety of innovative safety technology aimed at reducing risk to vulnerable road users such as a pop-up bonnet [4] and sudden door opening prevention should a cyclist ride alongside the driver door. Its 95% adult occupant protection score was also the highest of any car that featured in the Safety Award shortlist.

The ID.7 provides technology to encourage safer driving and performed well across Euro NCAP’s increasingly challenging testing, from passive crash protection to active crash prevention. It is the combination of all these systems within the ID.7 that makes it stand out as the 2024 Safety Award winner.

What Car? Safety Award judges’ comments

Tom Leggett, vehicle technology manager at Thatcham Research, said: “The ID.7 succeeds in creating an environment to ensure it is driven safely. By providing information to the driver about upcoming hazards or road features, the ID.7 helps keep them aware of potential issues on the road ahead. Its augmented reality heads up display also enables drivers to keep their eyes on the road while still being able to access key driving information about speed or ADAS features.

“Its ADAS implementation also successfully creates a collaborative system between driver and vehicle. This is essential to maintaining safety as intrusive ADAS technology can cause a driver to turn it off and therefore not benefit from it.”

Claire Evans, What Car? consumer editor, said: “With the ID.7, Volkswagen has listened to consumers and gone out of its way to improve its driver assistance systems. The previous incarnations of VW’s lane keeping assistance were criticised for being too intrusive, but the latest system in the ID.7 assists the driver without being overbearing, and that means it will play a big role in improving road safety.”

Michiel van Ratingen, Euro NCAP secretary general, said: “As Euro NCAP’s top performer in 2023, and a What Car? Award winner, the high-ranking safety status of the Volkswagen ID.7 is now assured. Particularly commendable is that the ID.7 is not only benign to smaller vehicles in head-on collisions, but it can also lessen or prevent impacts with motorcyclists. Many motorcycle crashes are caused by motorists who fail to spot motorbike riders in driving and turning situations. Congratulations Volkswagen on your efforts to protect vulnerable road users.”


Tough competition from 2024’s Safety Award runners-up

Finishing close behind the Volkswagen ID.7, the BMW 5 Series and the BYD SEAL were also praised for their strong safety performance. 

Finishing as first runner-up was the BMW 5 Series. 

BMW 5 Series

The 5 Series is a well-known and popular model, and BMW has ensured that all the safety features you would expect from a well-established brand are present. The 5 Series excelled in vulnerable road user protection (86%), and it has a pop-up bonnet to reduce injury of pedestrians and cyclists in the event of collision.

It also has an advanced sensor set that enables robust detection of cyclists and pedestrians, particularly for complex scenarios such as when the vehicle turns into a road when a cyclist is already crossing. Despite the short time to detect and brake, the 5 Series handles these scenarios well.

The vehicle also allows for ADAS customisation, enabling drivers to tailor the system how they want. ADAS customisation can encourage drivers to keep the system on, ensuring that the safety benefit is not lost.

The implementation of traditional ADAS technology such as intelligent speed assistance is well refined, informing the driver of speed limits on the road, as well as upcoming road signs. The 5 Series also features undertake prevention, which is often overlooked as a safety technology, particularly for long motorway drives.

In addition, the BMW 5 Series is available in a range of drivetrains, from conventional internal combustion to fully electric, which will greatly add to its mass-market appeal.


The SEAL earned its position as second runner-up by scoring full points in the latest Euro NCAP tests involving motorcyclist blind spot detection, sudden braking and the complex turn across path [5] scenarios.

The BYD Seal received praise from the judges as although the brand is a new entrant to the UK market, it has performed well against Euro NCAP’s most challenging safety requirements to date.

Notably, the motorcyclist detection for automatic emergency braking achieved high scores, and as motorcyclists can often be overlooked when it comes to vehicle safety, it is great to see BYD taking note and delivering good performance.

As a newcomer to the What Car? Safety Award, BYD has excelled in producing this all-electric car, which features many safety technologies fitted as standard, which are often the preserve of more premium vehicles.


[1] Judges are: Tom Leggett, vehicle technology manager, and Alex Thompson, principal engineer – automotive safety, at Thatcham Research, Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general, and Matthew Avery, director of strategic development, at Euro NCAP, and Claire Evans, consumer editor at What Car? 

[2] Passive safety focuses on impact protection and the performance of seatbelts and airbags, while active safety focuses on crash-avoidance technologies such as Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB), Lane Support Systems (LSS) and Blind Spot Information Systems (BLIS), amongst others. 

[3] Vulnerable Road Users (VRUs) include pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists. They make up about half of those killed and seriously injured on UK roads each year and are at a greater risk of sustaining an injury in a collision with a vehicle. Therefore, VRU protection is a key area of focus for vehicle safety.

[4] A pop-up bonnet, or deployable bonnet, is a passive safety feature which lifts the hood during a front-end collision with a VRU to reduce the risk of a severe head injury. This is designed to control the head’s deceleration and prevent hard contact with any rigid structures underneath the bonnet.

[5] AEB Turn Across Path test scenarios feature a pedestrian crossing a road into which a car is turning. These situations present different challenges due to the relative angles and distances between test car and pedestrian.

Privacy Policy & Terms of Use