With different types of tests undertaken and various ratings on display, you may be asking yourself: ‘what do they all mean?’

For this reason, we at Askaprice have put together a comprehensive guide that explains all you need to know about Euro NCAP.

Selecting a car to test


Does Euro NCAP test every new car on the market?

Euro NCAP does not test every new car that comes to the market, nor does it test all variants of each car, as it simply not feasible.

In order to provide a broad range of information to the consumer, Euro NCAP makes a selection of the most popular and interesting models each year to test.

Although the cars tested have usually just entered the market, Euro NCAP does also test cars that are already on sale.

Who decides what cars Euro NCAP tests?

Every member organisation of Euro NCAP chooses at least one car model to assess per year. The chosen car may be one which is relevant to their own domestic market or simply one which is important to a particular market segment.

Vehicle manufacturers can also sponsor their own cars for assessment – for example, Ford can ask for its best-selling Fiesta model to be assessed by Euro NCAP.

In either case, the process followed for sponsoring the assessment of a car model is the same.

What version of a car is tested by Euro NCAP?

After a car has been nominated for testing, Euro NCAP will ask the manufacturer of the vehicle for information about its best-selling model and what safety equipment it features across Europe.

From the information received, Euro NCAP will derive a test variant. Generally, the model chosen for testing must have safety equipment fitted as standard.

In certain cases, Euro NCAP allows test models to be fitted with optional technology. This is only if the option is available on a high number of cars sold and only for a short introduction period.

Where do the test cars come from?

If a model of the chosen test car is already on sale, Euro NCAP will usually purchase the cars from a dealership – in the same way that customers do.

Euro NCAP purchases cars anonymously, either from a single dealer or from several. A total of four cars are needed for an assessment.

Once the chosen vehicles are at Euro NCAP’s test laboratory, the manufacturers of the models are informed of the vehicle identification numbers (VINs) and are then asked to confirm the models’ specification.

If a manufacturer has, for example, added an extra piece of safety equipment since the cars were produced, then it may ask for the current item to be fitted to the test vehicle. This ensures that the Euro NCAP safety ratings are representative of current production vehicles.

What about cars not currently on sale?

Euro NCAP will sometimes test cars that are not yet available at dealerships, as it is important to publish safety results as soon as possible in a vehicle’s life-cycle.

In such circumstances, Euro NCAP will select cars from early production. To do this, Euro NCAP will either visit a manufacturing plant and select cars at random or randomly select VINs from a list provided by the manufacturer.

When the chosen models arrive at Euro NCAP’s test laboratory, they are checked to ensure that they are equipped with the correct items of safety kit.

Under no circumstances will Euro NCAP test vehicles that are not fully type approved, are not from series production or not legally sellable to the general public.

If Euro NCAP finds any evidence that casts doubt on the production status of the vehicle, either before, during or after the tests, then this will automatically lead to an invalid result and follow-up investigations.

Euro NCAP ratings explained


As of 2009, Euro NCAP releases one overall star rating, up to a maximum of five stars, for each car that it has tested. The overall safety rating is comprised of scores in four areas: adult protection, child protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist.

Euro NCAP calculates the overall score by weighing the four scores with respect to each other, while also ensuring that not one area of the model’s safety is underachieving.

Tests are similar to those carried out before 2009, with the addition of a test for Whiplash neck injury protection in rear impact and a reward for not only Seatbelt reminders, but also for Speed Limiters and the model including Electronic Stability Control (ESC) as standard.

For models tested before 2009, Euro NCAP has released three ratings, which are ‘adult protection’, ‘child occupant’ and ‘pedestrian protection’.

In order to calculate the ratings for adult protection and child protection, Euro NCAP carries out three impact tests: frontal, side and pole test. A separate range of pedestrian tests is carried out by Euro NCAP to determine the score of the pedestrian protection rating.

Adult Occupant Protection

Along with Pedestrian Protection, Adult Occupant Protection was the first safety rating to be introduced by Euro NCAP.

Euro NCAP determines the Adult Occupant Protection safety rating from the frontal, the side and pole impact tests.

Modifiers are also given to extend the safety assessment to cover different sizes of people in a host of seating positioning – particularly for the knee contact area.

The Adult Occupant Protection safety rating is completed with the result of the Whiplash test. This is carried out separately on the driver or passenger seat.

Child Occupant Protection

Euro NCAP uses child dummies installed in child restraint systems (CRSs – also known as child safety seats)in the front and side crash in order to assess the protection offered to infants and toddlers.

The first part of a test vehicle’s Child Occupant Protection score is based on the protection offered by the CRS and the car itself in these tests.

Euro NCAP also carries out a child seat installation, forming the second part of the vehicle score, in order to address misuse due to incompatibilities. This is because misuse of child restraints can be attributed to user error or to incompatibilities between the safety seat and the vehicle.

The last part of the Child Occupant Protection safety test regards ISOFIX child safety seat attachment points.

As ISOFIX provides the most secure method of attaching the child safety seat to a vehicle, Euro NCAP strongly encourages the fitment of ISOFIX mounts, along with other vehicle features that aid the safe transport of children.

For a vehicle to achieve a good overall safety rating from Euro NCAP, they must attain a high Child Occupant Protection score.

Vehicles with limited capability to carry children, such as two-seated models, are subject to a reduced assessment.

Pedestrian Protection

With around 14% of all road fatalities in Europe concerning pedestrians, Euro NCAP aims to encourage further improvement of vehicle performance in this area by including the Pedestrian Protection score into a vehicle’s overall safety rating.

Euro NCAP carries out tests to a vehicle’s most important front-end structures, such as its bonnet and windshield, the bonnet leading edge and its bumper. This is done to estimate the potential risk of injury in the event of a vehicle hitting an adult or child.

Euro NCAP’s procedure of carrying out Pedestrian Protection tests promotes manufacturers to develop such safety features as energy absorbing structures, deformation clearance and deployable protection systems such as pop-up bonnets and external airbags.

As of 2009, the Pedestrian Protection score has become an integral part of a vehicle’s overall safety rating. In order to attain a good overall rating, tested vehicles must achieve a good Pedestrian Protection score.

Safety Assist

As safety assist technologies play an increasingly important role in accident avoidance and injury mitigation, Euro NCAP’s Safety Assist rating is an important part of a vehicle’s overall safety score.

Although many safety systems are new and their impact on safety is not yet fully understood, numerous other technologies are proven in saving lives and are widely available in models worldwide.

Such technologies include Electronic Stability Control, Intelligent Seatbelt Reminder and Speed Assistance systems.

Euro NCAP assesses the functionality of such technologies and scores points based on them. However, points can only be scored if the fitment of the technologies on all of the vehicle variants sold across Europe is high.

Since 2003, Intelligent Seatbelt Reminders have been assessed by Euro NCAP as part of its Adult Occupant Rating. Now, Seatbelt Reminders, ESC and Speed Assistance systems are grouped together under the Safety Assist category.

In order for a vehicle to receive a good overall safety rating, it must score well in the Safety Assist technologies test.

The different types of tests


All new car models must pass certain safety tests before they are sold, by law. With legislation providing a minimum statutory standard of safety for new cars, it is Euro NCAP’s aim to encourage manufacturers to exceed these minimum requirements.

For this reason, Euro NCAP subjects its test vehicles to numerous crash tests, covering different aspects of a model’s safety.

The list of tests is as follows:

  • Autonomous Emergency Braking
  • Frontal Impact
  • Car to Car side Impact
  • Pole Side Impact
  • Whiplash
  • Child Protection
  • Pedestrian Protection
  • ESC
  • Seatbelt Reminders
  • Speed Assistance Systems.

The crash test dummies


Euro NCAP uses two types of crash test dummy to test a car’s safety features: the Hybrid III and the ES-2. The dummies purpose is to be on the receiving end of a simulated accident and to show testers what happens to their limbs in the event of a collision.

The Hybrid III dummy has been designed by Euro NCAP to gather data from frontal impacts, while the ES-2 variant gathers side-impact data – meaning that it has different instrumentation.

The steel-skeletoned, rubber-skinned dummies are packing with sensing equipment and each cost in excess of £82,000 to build.

Sensing equipment is featured in many of the dummies’ limbs, with Euro NCAP recording the post-collision data from each limb. The list of a dummy’s monitored anatomy is as follows:

  • Head
  • Neck
  • Arms
  • Chest (front impact)
  • Chest (side impact)
  • Abdomen
  • Pelvis
  • Upper Leg
  • Lower Leg
  • Feet and Ankles.

Further questions

For those who have further questions about a car’s safety features, you can view the model’s page on a manufacturer’s website or contact your local dealership. You can find your local dealership through Askaprice.