It's 2012 and Euro NCAP just got even tougher Euro NCAP crash tests: first cars tested in 2012

22 February 2012

The Jeep Compass, until now a hopeful new compact 4x4 contender, has become the first car for many years to score just two stars in Euro NCAP, instantly earning it the Which? Don't Buy recommendation. 

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The February 2012 release of Euro NCAP crash test results is a modest one. It includes new crash test results for the new Honda Civic, Jeep Compass and Subaru XV, plus re-evaluations of cars from BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo, to the more stringent 2012 standard. 

These re-tests will give the carmakers the ability to sell the cars with the claim of achieving five stars against the new, tougher Euro NCAP 2012 assessment criteria.

Jeep Compass disappoints

The Jeep's adult protection was not deemed acceptable, with structures in the dashboard presenting a risk of injury to the knees and upper legs of both the driver and passenger. And the side-on 'pole test' indicated a high risk of serious chest injury, even with the optional thorax airbag fitted. The car scored no points in that test at all. 

Child safety wasn't too far off the competition, but the passenger airbag cannot be disabled. The risks of using a rearward facing restraint in the front passenger seat with the active airbag were explained, but only in English - on a label on one side of the passenger sun visor.

Pedestrian protection is an area where the new standards really start to differentiate between good and poor safety design. The Compass' bumper scored no points for its protection of pedestrians' legs. The front edge of the bonnet also scored no points, offering poor protection in all areas tested. Overall the pedestrian protection was a lowly 23% - a long way off the new 60% threshold cars must reach in order to qualify for five stars overall.

A spokesman for Jeep told Which? today that the Compass 'meets or exceeds all of the European regulatory and safety requirements' and offered reassurances that Jeep's 'commitment to occupant and pedestrian safety standards is paramount.' We will have to wait and see whether this commitment is reflected in the performance of its next-generation models when they are tested by Euro NCAP.

Five star overall rating

Civic needs to offer good safety as a basic medium hatch requirement

Subaru's innovative airbag scores 90%

Both the new Honda Civic and the Subaru XV score five stars, by offering the competitive safety features demanded in the medium family sector. And the Subaru earned extra praise from inspectors for its development in child safety. 

The front passenger airbag of the XV is by default switched off, thus allowing a rearward facing child restraint to be used in that seating position without the usual need for it to be deactivated. 

The airbag only activates when an occupant of a suitable size is detected in the seat. This innovative system met Euro NCAP's requirements and contributed to an impressive child safety score of 90%.

Competitive market for safety

Since its inception, Euro NCAP has generated a commercial pressure for manufacturers to improve safety in cars, and it is now unusual for a manufacturer to launch a car which scores less than four stars. Perhaps this is a lesson the Jeep Compass designers missed out on. 

As a mark of how important it has become, we get innovations like the one delivered by Subaru, but with the cranking up of Euro NCAP standards, we've also seen BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo all request that their cars tested in 2011 be re-assessed against the tougher Euro NCAP. This allows them to claim the new, 2012 five star ratings for their models - giving them a competitive edge.

More on this...

  • View the full results and videos of the first Euro NCAP tests for 2012
  • Is your child sitting safely? Check out our independent reviews of the best child car seats
  • Read our guide to the best car safety features to look for