Apart from fuel efficiency and maintenance costs, safety remains one of drivers’ top priorities when it comes to buying a new car.
Making cars safer is a continuous process and every year manufacturers strive to make each generation better than the one before. New safety features are introduced and existing technology improved.
If you’re in the market for a new supermini and safety is important to you, check out our list.
Who decides which cars are the safest?
Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) was established in 1997 and it provides independent reports on most of Europe’s cars. Experts examine cars’ level of safety taking into account adult protection, child protection, pedestrian safety, and vehicle safety technology.
Euro NCAP is an industry standard which awards each tested car with a star rating from one to five.
The i20 was tested this year. Although it didn’t manage to achieve a five-star rating, the car performed well in three of the four main categories. Vehicle safety technology was its only let down.
Despite the four-star rating, crash tests showed that the frugal Hyundai provides adequate protection for passengers both at the front and the rear.
The car’s standard safety features are also top notch, including electronic stability control (which detects the first signs of a sideways skid and helps reduce the risk of swaying off course), a seatbelt reminder and six airbags.
A lane departure warning system and a driver-set speed limiter are also available.
Of all superminis tested in 2015, the Japanese made Vitara is the only one to get the full five-star rating. During the Euro NCAP crash tests the supermini performed well across all four categories.
The Suzuki offers a great overall protection to all passengers as safety is consistent across all sides of the vehicle.
There’s plenty of clever safety technology available as standard, including an automatic braking system, hill start assist, electronic stability control, ISOFIX child seat fittings, seat belt reminder and seven airbags.
If you want additional safety features, you can opt for cruise control and AEB Inter-urban - a feature which helps the driver avoid collisions
When Euro NCAP tested the Mazda in 2015, it performed well in all four categories, scoring four out five stars. The car provides good protection to all passengers, achieving the maximum score available in the side collision tests.
One caveat is the slight increase in risk of a whiplash for occupants at the rear, compared to passengers at the front.
Features that don’t come as a standard don’t get factored in the score, and the Mazda has many of these.
Mazda 2’s standard equipment includes anti-lock brakes, electronic stability control, braking assistance and traction control.
The car also comes with a few, highly desirable, optional safety features, such as a lane assist system, which warns the driver if they sway off their lane, automatic emergency braking and blind-spot monitoring (which monitors other vehicles approaching the car from behind and from either side).
Last tested in 2014, Skoda’s supermini smashed all tests, scoring a full five-star rating. The car provides equally good protection to both adults and children. This also applies to pedestrians’ protection as well, with the Fabia achieving maximum scores in this area.
The car comes with plenty of kit – six airbags, stability and traction control, low-speed collision assist, braking assistance, ISOFIX fittings, and a tyre-pressure monitoring system.
If you’re looking for some extra protection, you can get Skoda’s “Front Assistant” system, which helps reduce the risk of an accident by providing a warning to the driver if the car is likely to hit another vehicle.
If the driver doesn’t take action, the system will autonomously reduce the speed or brake to a full stop if needed. All-in-all, you can’t go wrong with the Skoda Fabia as it’s a solid car which provides decent overall protection.
The nimble Peugeot 108, last tested in 2014, received four stars. The 108 managed to score highly in the adult and child passengers crash tests. What’s more, the protection against whiplash was adequate too.
Pedestrians are also well protected, with the bumper scoring maximum points and a bonnet that lowers the risk of an injury.
The French supermini comes with enough safety equipment and features to put any other car of the same class to shame.
It sports six airbags with additional curtain airbags for the windows, electronic stability control, ISOFIX for child seats at the back, reversing camera and tyre under-inflation detection system.