At the top of the list is the new generation Volkswagen Golf VI which scored 313 from a possible 400 points across the four safety categories – Adult Occupant Protection, Child Occupant Protection, Pedestrian Protection and Safety Assist.
More commonly praised for their fuel efficiency rather than their level of safety, second and third place were occupied by the Honda Insight Hybrid and Toyota Prius respectively.
Dr Michiel van Ratingen, Secretary General of Euro NCAP says “This is the first time we can calculate results that demonstrate an overall safety performance. Even though these cars excel in different areas of safety, their presence in the top-five list indicates that they are among the top safety achievers of the year”.
Fourth place was perhaps the biggest surprise result, with Hyundai’s i20 city car scoring 321 points in crash testing – shattering small car stereotypes in its wake.
The good news is that Euro NCAP results in 2009 show smaller, premium, mass market brands are becoming equally expert in safety as bigger, more expensive models.
There were three joint winners for fifth place – the Toyota Avensis, Volvo XC60 and the new generation Opel/Vauxhall Astra.
The Euro NCAP system has been modified for 2010 in an ongoing effort to raise the bar for manufacturers, with the threshold to achieve the maximum five star rating going up from 75 to 80 per cent in Adult Occupant Protection and from 70 to 75 per cent in Child Occupant Protection.
Relatively poor performance all round for Pedestrian Protection also means car makers will now require a score higher than 40 per cent, rather than the current 25 per cent, to achieve the maximum five star rating.
The poorest performers of 2009 were achieved by the Suzuki Alto and the Toyota Urban Cruiser, which both received three stars.