THERE'LL be red faces in Stuttgart and Coventry, but they'll be smiling in Seoul following publication of the latest ‘official' list of the safest cars on sale in Europe.
For a budget-priced Korean SUV has beaten the best cars that Europe's luxury car manufacturers can offer to be named the safest big four wheel drive model to be launched in Europe during 2012.
The latest Hyundai Santa Fe beat off competition from luxury MPVs such as the Mercedes-Benz M-Class and the latest Range Rover to be named as 2012's safest big SUV by influential crash testing and safety organisation Euro NCAP.
Priced from under £26,000 it costs considerably less than half the price of the latest Range Rover yet it was the safest car in its class assessed by Euro NCAP during the year. Its scores across all test categories were best-in-class, making it one of the safest vehicles ever tested by the independent vehicle assessment organisation and the best in the Large Off-Road 4x4 segment, beating the new £70,000 Range Rover into second place.
Overall, Euro NCAP's choice of the safest cars of 2012 has proved to be a triumph for volume car makers over the so-called prestige brands.
Ford scored a best-in-class hat-trick with the B-Max, Kuga and Transit while the Fiat 500L and the latest Renault Clio were also named as best in their respective classes for their outstanding safety performance. The list of runners-up in each segment was also dominated by mass-market models.
Amongst perceived luxury models, only the new BMW 3 Series and the new Volvo V40 achieved best in class accolades, although the new Volvo was singled out as achieving the highest score of any car ever tested by the safety organisation.
In 2012, Euro NCAP tested 36 new vehicles available in European showrooms for several safety criteria covering adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist systems with a maximum of five stars available.
Whilst 26 new models achieved the maximum five-stars in the Euro NCAP crash tests, one model achieved four stars and eight received three stars. The organisation named the Jeep Compass and Renault Trafic van as 2012's underperformers each scoring two stars against the latest set of requirements.
The best in class of 2012, recommended by Euro NCAP for their outstanding safety performance are:
: 1, Renault Clio 2, Ford Fiesta
1, Volvo V40 2, Opel Mokka
1, BMW 3 Series 2, Volvo V60 Plug-in Hybrid
1=, Fiat 500L; Ford B-Max
1, Ford Kuga 2, Subaru Forester
1, Hyundai Santa Fe 2, Range Rover
1, Ford Transit 2, Fiat Scudo/ Citroen Jumpy/ Peugeot Expert