AA Buyer's Guide: Affordable safe picks
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In 2019, the Mercedes-Benz CLA was the top performer for safety, achieving an overall weighted score of 90.2 per cent from ANCAP.
The model performed exceptionally well in the areas of Child Occupant Protection (92 per cent) and Vulnerable Road User Protection (91 per cent).
The runners up for the year were the Tesla Model X with an overall score of 89.6 per cent and the Tesla Model 3 with an overall score of 89.4 per cent.
With 40 ANCAP safety ratings issued throughout 2019, an impressive 83 per cent managed to achieve the five-star result, which is excellent news for new car buyers.
We’ve looked through the scores to see some of the more affordable passenger-class winners.
Mazda 3 (88.4 per cent) from $36,895
If you are looking for a small car then you are in luck. Remember, it’s not always size that counts when it comes to safety.
The sleek-looking Mazda 3 GSX is the entry-level model and comes with a 2.0l SkyActiv-G engine with 114kW/200Nm.
If you’re able to stretch the budget a bit further to $41,095 you’ll be able to get the livelier 2.5l engine with innovative cylinder deactivation for enhanced economy.
Dual frontal airbags, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting airbags (curtains) and a driver knee airbag are standard. Autonomous Emergency Braking (City, Interurban and Vulnerable Road User) as well as Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning and a Speed Assist System (SAS) are fitted as standard equipment on all variants.
Audi A1 (86.6 per cent) from $40,500
The entry-level Audi A1 30 TFSI gets the 85kW/200NM three-cylinder turbo petrol engine (the same as the Volkswagen Polo and Seat Ibiza) and utilises a seven-speed DSG transmission.
It has some rally-inspired design; while it isn’t overly apparent, there are three flat slits underneath the bonnet which hark back to the days of the original Audi Quattro.
Dual frontal, side chest-protecting and side head-protecting airbags come as standard. Autonomous Emergency Braking (City, Interurban and Vulnerable Road User), Lane Keep Assist (LKA) with Lane Departure Warning (LDW) and Emergency Lane-keeping Assist (ELK) are also included at no additional cost.
Toyota RAV4 (88.6 per cent) from $36,490
Smaller cars aren’t for everyone, and if you’re after a safe car with a bit more space, then why not consider the Toyota RAV4?
The RAV4 has come a long way since its introduction back in 1989 – there’s a lot more to offer nowadays in terms of technology, safety and comfort.
The entry-level RAV4 comes with a competent 2.0l D-4S engine that develops 127kW/203Nm. If you want to spend a bit more, there are three other compelling variants to consider, including the popular Hybrid option. Regardless of the powertrain, all variants offer a robust 1500kg braked towing capacity.
Dual frontal, side chest-protecting, side head-protecting and a driver’s knee airbag are included across the entire range of the RAV4. Autonomous Emergency Braking (City, Interurban and Vulnerable Road User), Lane Keeping Assist (with Lane Departure Warning) and a Blind Spot Monitor (BSM) also come as standard.
ANCAP has published safety ratings for thousands of different vehicle makes since 1993, and covers a broad range of models. When you are in the market for your next new car it might pay to visit ancap.com.au and see how your next vehicle fared. Or even to simply look through their detailed reporting for a better understanding of your current vehicle’s safety.
Top performers for 2019 by vehicle category
LIGHT CAR: Audi A1 (86.6 per cent) from $40,500
SMALL CAR: Mazda 3 (88.4 per cent) from $36,895
MEDIUM CAR: Mercedes-Benz CLA (90.2 per cent) from $76,990
LARGE CAR: Audi A7 (86.0 per cent) Not currently available in NZ
SMALL SUV: Lexus UX (89.0 per cent) from $59,900
MEDIUM SUV: Toyota RAV4 (88.6 per cent) from $36,490
LARGE SUV: Tesla Model X (89.6 per cent) from $157,990
UTILITY: Toyota Hilux (89.0 per cent) from $28,990
VAN: Toyota HiAce (87.4 per cent) from $46,490
PEOPLE MOVER: Toyota Granvia (87.8%) from $68,990 (driveaway price)