Swedish automaker Volvo's small family car the V40 has taken the highest honors in history in European vehicle safety and testing organization Euro NCAP's list of 2012's safest cars.
Of the 36 new European cars -- and for the first time, vans -- tested in 2012, 26 vehicles were awarded the full five stars based on crash tests measuring adult occupant protection, child occupant protection, pedestrian protection and safety assist systems, including the Volvo V40, which reached the highest combined score for any car previously tested by the organization.
The record-breaking results made the Volvo the safest small family car on sale in Europe today. It is joined in the supermini category by the Renault Clio and the Ford B-Max and Fiat 500L which tied for first place in the small MPV category. Ford also performed well. It came top in the business/family van category with its Transit Van (the first time vans have been subjected to NCAP testing). In the supermini category, its Fiesta came second in the overall rankings, while its Focus-derived Kuga was named the safest small off-road 4x4. The Hyundai Santa Fe took the honors in the large off-road 4x4 category, beating the new Range Rover into second place. The BMW 3-Series was named the safest large family car, ahead of the Volvo V60 Plug-In Hybrid.
As well as the 26 cars that were awarded 5 stars in 2012, one model achieved four stars and 8 received three stars. Last year's underperformers were the Jeep Compass and Renault Trafic, each of which was only able to score two stars against the latest set of requirements.
The next round of EuroNCAP test results are set to be published on March 5.