Safest new cars 2022

If you're searching for a safe, new car that looks fresh and turns heads, look no further than these eight five-star-rated models

Craig Hale
Jan 17, 2022

UK roads are among the safest in Europe, and cars are offering greater and greater levels of collision protection. This has made the idea of road safety something that is often taken for granted or even overlooked entirely by motorists.

People interested in a new car will often focus more on alloy wheel designs, trim levels and fuel economy than they do on whether autonomous emergency braking (AEB) is available, or how much protection a particular model provides for their children.

Even in an age where technology is so advanced and safety is considered a foregone conclusion, the differences between one car’s safety rating and another’s can be significant, and it's a figure that manufacturers take very seriously indeed.

Take the Ford Mustang, for example. When it was first tested by Euro NCAP – the organisation responsible for setting crash-test criteria and assessing how vehicles perform in various types of impact – the Mustang received a two-star safety rating. So unusual was it for a modern car to receive such a low rating that Ford acted rapidly, fitting pedestrian detection, AEB and lane-keep assist, while the firm also reconfigured the airbags, which had been partly responsible for its low score. The Mustang received a more reasonable three-star rating when retested after these improvements.

Crash tests can be even more impactful than that, though. Fiat withdrew the Punto – originally launched in 2005 – from sale after it was awarded NCAP’s first-ever zero-star rating in 2017. The fact that the Punto scored five stars for its adult protection back in 2005 shows just how far car safety progressed.

Safest new cars

To select our eight safest cars, we consulted Euro NCAP’s test directory for 2021, taking a mix of high-achievers across the four testing categories. All of the vehicles in the rundown scored five stars overall – the maximum rating Euro NCAP awards – but the individual category scores, not to mention the crash experts’ comments in the cars’ full reports – make for interesting reading nonetheless.

1. Skoda Enyaq

Adult protection 94% Child protection 89% Pedestrian protection 71% Safety assist 82%
Used deals from £39,900
Monthly finance from £617*

Every version of the Enyaq has bright LED headlights to help make driving at night less stressful, while some models can be specified with adaptive LED headlights that illuminate much more of the road without blinding other drivers. All Enyaqs all have a lane departure warning system and autonomous emergency braking, as well as a traffic sign recognition system.

Entry-level iV 58kWh 60 models can do around 252 miles on a full charge, which should prove enough for most people. We think you’re better off looking for a used one of these with some optional extras ticked, rather than the more expensive 77kWh iV 80 models.


2. Cupra Formentor

Adult protection 93% Child protection 88% Pedestrian protection 68% Safety assist 80%
Used deals from £25,995
Monthly finance from £382*

The Cupra Formentor shares many of its mechanical parts with the Seat Leon, including its safety technology. Even entry-level models come with adaptive cruise control. You’ll have to pay more if you want a model with a reversing camera, though, which could prove useful in tight parking spaces.

It was the 150hp 1.5-litre petrol version that was tested by Euro NCAP, but there are more powerful options available including a 190hp 2.0-litre petrol engine, a 245hp engine borrowed from Volkswagen’s Golf GTI, and a 310hp engine (10hp down on the ridiculously fast Golf R). There are 204hp and 245hp plug-in hybrid options, too.


3. Volkswagen ID.4

Adult protection 93% Child protection 89% Pedestrian protection 76% Safety assist 85%
Used deals from £43,791
Monthly finance from £719*

The ID.4, Skoda Enyaq, and Audi’s Q4 e-tron are built using the same parts. It’s no surprise, then, that all three models were awarded full five-star ratings in Euro NCAP’s tests. The ID.4 comes with a higher level of standard equipment compared to the Enyaq, and depending on when the ID.4 you’re looking at was built, it may come with keyless entry, keyless start and a reversing camera as standard. It’s worth checking the individual specification to be sure.

We think it’s worth avoiding the 148hp ‘Pure’ model which can feel a bit slow. The 170hp Pure Performance is better suited to the car’s weight, but for the ultimate electric range, the 204hp ‘Pro Performance’ model with its larger 77kWh battery makes the most sense.


4. Toyota Yaris Cross

Adult protection 86% Child protection 84% Pedestrian protection 78% Safety assist 81%
Used deals from £25,399
Monthly finance from £355*

Even city cars and superminis are getting the crossover treatment in 2021, and the Yaris is no different. Despite its small stature, it’s not short on kit. Every model features keyless entry, a reversing camera and adaptive cruise control.

The 1.5-litre self-charging hybrid engine promises over 50mpg in day-to-day driving. Stay clear of the four-wheel-drive version unless it’s absolutely necessary because the Yaris Cross will prove less efficient than the regular front-wheel-drive version.


5. Hyundai Ioniq 5

Adult protection 88% Child protection 86% Pedestrian protection 63% Safety assist 88%
Used deals Limited stock

The Ioniq 5 isn’t a particularly cheap electric car, but it makes up for this with its safety credentials. Entry-level SE Connect does away with some features like blind-spot monitoring, heated seats, a heated steering wheel and an electric boot lid, so we think your money is best spent on mid-spec Premium models.

As with any electric car, the automatic gearbox makes driving around town easy. Smooth acceleration makes the Ioniq 5 feel quick in any form - there’s no need to spend extra on the powerful 305hp version.


6. Volkswagen Caddy

Adult protection 84% Child protection 82% Pedestrian protection 69% Safety assist 79%
Used deals Limited stock

Many of the latest cars are filled with high-tech complexities, and while the Caddy is a relatively basic offering from Volkswagen, it could be equally at home with a large family or holding together a small business.

It has a long list of optional extras, so be careful when buying used that you’re getting what you want. The 102hp 2.0-litre diesel and 114hp 1.5-litre petrol engines can feel a little bit underpowered for a vehicle of this size, so the 122hp 2.0-litre diesel engine makes the most sense if you can live with diesel. If you need seven seats, it’s worth checking out the Caddy Maxi (pictured above).


7. Polestar 2

Adult protection 93% Child protection 89% Pedestrian protection 80% Safety assist 83%
Used deals Limited stock
Volvo is known for making some of the safest cars you can buy, and Polestar is no different. Owned by Volvo, the Swedish carmaker’s first electric offering achieved some of the highest safety figures of 2021.

Much like Tesla, Polestar issues over-the-air updates to its cars, which adds new features and refines existing ones helping it to stay fresh and, most importantly, as safe as possible.

8. Ford Mustang Mach-E

Adult protection 92% Child protection 86% Pedestrian protection 69% Safety assist 82%
Used deals from £50,999
Monthly finance from £891*

Like many of the models released in and around 2021, the Mustang Mach-E is an electric car. Every model comes with a heated windscreen which can prove useful in the winter as it’s much more efficient to run than defrosting your car with the demister.

There are rear- and four-wheel-drive versions with 70kWh and 91kWh battery packs providing up to 379 miles of range. The performance-orientated GT model manages 0-62mph in 3.7 seconds - much quicker than the iconic Mustang coupe.


*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.


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