Euro NCAP criticises whiplash safety in new carsMany car seats fail to prevent whiplash injuries

26 November 2008

New VW Golf

New Golf protects occupants well

Many brand-new cars put drivers and passengers at high risk of whiplash injuries, according to the first rear-impact test ratings from Euro NCAP.

The independent crash-test body has developed this new test to show the how well a car's seat and head restraints are designed to protect occupants against debilitating spinal (whiplash) injuries in the event of the car being hit from behind. 

It will become an integral part or the overall Euro NCAP rating system from early next year.

Vauxhall Insignia

Vauxhall's new Insignia did well in the new test

Poor whiplash protection

Of the 23 car seats tested in this first batch, 18 were less than satisfactory, with only five – from the Volvo XC60, Alfa Romeo Mito, the new VW Golf, Audi A4 and Vauxhall Insignia - rated as good. 

For the remaining new cars, all of which were crash-tested by Euro NCAP during 2008, the manufacturers still have plenty of scope for improving car safety. 

The poorest ratings went to some popular household names, including the recently launched Ford Kuga 4x4, the Daihatsu Terios, two models from Citroën – the C5 family car and new Berlingo, and the Hyundai i10.

Neck injuries

Citroen C5

Despite all the airbags, the Citroen C5 offers poor whiplash protection

Whiplash, caused by a sudden distortion of the neck, can lead to painful and debilitating symptoms over many years. 

Whiplash is not uncommon in frontal and side impact accidents, but more often occurs in low-speed, rear-end shunts in urban areas. The frequency of whiplash and its cost to European society has prompted Euro NCAP to introduce a new rear-impact test into its safety ratings.

Whiplash test results

Here's a full list of the first Euro NCAP whiplash results - all ratings are out of a maximum score of five. For now, these ratings will be published alongside existing Euro NCAP ratings, but from February 2009, the whiplash test will become a standard part of Euro NCAP's ratings system. 

EuroNCAP summary whiplash results
Car Score Restraint type
Volvo XC60 3.54 Fixed head restraint
AlfaRomeo Mito 3.35 Non-locking Reactive type head restraint.No tilt adjustment.
Volkswagen Golf VI 3.31 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Audi A4 3.15 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Vauxhall Insignia 3.06 Standard type head restraint. Non locking tilt adjustment
Renault Koleos 2.94 Standard type head restraint. Non locking tilt adjustment.
Lancia Delta 2.62 Non-locking Reactive type head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
BMW X3 2.44 Locking Pro-Active type head restraint. Locking tilt adjustment
Renault Kangoo 2 2.38 Standard type head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Renault Megane 2.38 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Honda Accord 2.26 Non-Locking Reactive type head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Skoda Superb 2.22 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Ford Fiesta 2.21 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Hyundai i30 2.21 Reactive type head restraint. Locking tilt adjustment
Seat Ibiza 1.96 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Mercedes Benz M-class 1.82 Locking Pro-Active type head restraint. Non locking tilt adjustment
Citroen Berlingo 1.04 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Hyundai i10 0.94 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Citroen C5 0.57 Standard type head restraint. Non locking tilt adjustment.
Ford Kuga 0.44 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Daihatsu Terios 0 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.
Peugeot 308CC 0 Fixed head restraint
Suzuki Splash 0 Standard head restraint. No tilt adjustment.