Terrifying old vs new car crash shows how far we've come


This month marks an unspeakably boring, but very important anniversary: it has been 20 years since European crash test standards were refreshed and updated, making our roads dramatically safer. Thrilling stuff!

Why do I care?

Pre-1998, the motoring industry was the Wild West as far as road safety goes. Crash test standards were horrendously outdated and most brands were perfectly happy doing the bare minimum required of them - rather than voluntarily investing more money into making their cars safer than they were legally required to be.

Back then, safety was a premium feature found only on top end cars - like leather seats or electric windows. If you wanted a car that wouldn’t crumple like tinfoil and kill you instantly in the event of a minor crash, you had to be rich enough to buy from a posh brand - like Rolls and Merc - or sensible enough to buy a Volvo. Pretty much everything else on the road was a deathtrap, particularly the sort of cheap and cheerful superminis that most inexperienced new drivers buy as their first car.

Then in 1998, the European New Car Assessment Programme, AKA EuroNCAP, AKA a group of safety-conscious Swedish chaps, decided that after 24 years without change, it was time to bring crash test standards up to speed. Overnight, the minimum requirement for car safety was sharply raised, and if a car performed poorly it was publicly shamed with a 1 star rating. EuroNCAP’s methods were (and to this day are) far from perfect - but we should be grateful that 20 years ago, they forced manufacturers to up their game and in doing so ensured that you no longer have to be wealthy to buy a car built with your welfare in mind.

I’m bored. Show me some sweet crashes.

Oh alright then. To illustrate just how far car safety has come in the past two decades, EuroNCAP shared this video a few days ago, showing a head on collision between a 1998 Ford Fiesta and a 2018 Ford Fiesta. The results speak for themselves...

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Comments (51)
  • Surely to make the test fair, considering how much size and weight the cars have put on, you’d have to crash a Granada into a 2018 Fiesta?

    I suspect a 1998 VW Golf would fair better against its modern day contemporary. In fairly certainly you could drive a Mk4 Golf through a bus shelter and not write the car off!

    1 month ago
  • Go back to the 80s and if you wanted safe but boring it was a 2 series volvo, safe but a bit more interesting to drive and it was Saab 99. These days it's difficult to find something that isn't 5 stars! Even my 18 year old NB MX5 is 4 star.

    1 month ago


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