What is the safest small car to buy?

If you’re looking for a practical small car that does the most to protect driver and passenger, what is the all-round “safest bet”?

For a while now the safety body Euro NCAP has been a reliable and well-trusted source for providing public knowledge on how well cars currently on sale will protect you and others in various types of crashes and collisions.

Not only do modern cars get scored for safety with an overall five-star rating, they are also individually scored on four key categories, including rating for protecting adult occupants, child occupants, pedestrians and a safety assist rating.

Any specific breakthrough and stand-out safety technologies featured on cars tested are also acknowledged via special commendations by Euro NCAP.

The safety body Euro NCAP covers every car category found in the market. Here we are going to take a look at the best rated cars for safety in the popular supermini segment, which covers smaller models.

Since Euro NCAP frequently updates its scoring requirements with more stringent demands, we’re best focusing on models launched within the past couple of years, and are therefore still available now in showrooms including Perrys Dealershipsnationwide.

In its announcement of the Best in Class Cars of 2012 back in January 2013, the latest Renault Clio was declared the top car out of the current supermini category.

Not only does the Clio have a five-star safety rating from Euro NCAP, it is one of highest rated small cars ever tested by the safety body, achieving highly impressive scores across all four key categories.

The car managed to receive an 88 per cent rating in the ‘adult occupant’ criterion, with the assessors commenting that ‘the passenger compartment of the Clio remained stable in the frontal test’, as well as mentioning that ‘the car scored maximum points’ in the side barrier test.

The Clio managed to receive a slightly higher mark of 89 per cent in the ‘child occupant’ category. Most cars usually receive a lower ‘pedestrian protection’ score however and this is evident in the crash test evaluation for the Renault Clio, with the car receiving 66 per cent in this particular test.

Comments indicated that ‘protection offered by the front edge of the bonnet was predominantly good’ – although it further stated that ‘in most of the areas likely to be struck by a child’s head, protection was poor or marginal.’

The Renault Clio however also achieved a highly rating of 99 per cent in the ‘safety assist’ criterion to round of the results, with the testers praising the cars safety features.

The Clio includes six airbags, anti-whiplash headrests and Isofix child seat anchorage points on three of the five seats.

The latest Ford Fiesta is a very close runner-up to the Clio in regards best in class for safety ratings.

It scored 91 per cent for adult occupant, 86 per cent for child occupant, 65 per cent for pedestrian protection and 71 per cent for safety assist

The Ford Fiesta also received two “Advanced Rewards” for its recently introduced new safety technologies including Ford MyKey and Ford SYNC Emergency Assitance.

A more recent supermini which has performed admirably in the Euro NCAP tests is the all-electric Renault Zoe, arriving to the UK next month. The Zoe scored 89 per cent for adult occupant, 80 per cent for child occupant, 66 per cent for pedestrian protection and 85 per cent for safety assist.

The all-electric and highly alternative choice for a small family car that is the Zoe represents a very safe proposition in itself, much like the dependable Clio and Fiesta.