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Latest generation VW Golf marks a turning point in safety

Latest generation VW Golf marks a turning point in safety
Tristan Honeywill

Euro NCAP crash test results just published for the seventh generation Golf indicate that the latest version offers more or less the same level of crash protection as its predecessor. The scores seem to indicate a lack of progress, but it’s actually the opposite. The new Golf is not only a less expensive model that has suffered no compromise in crash protection; it marks a shift towards electronic driver assistance systems by the industry.

Comparing the crash test results for Golf Mk VII and the 2009 Golf Mk VI shows that the basic safety is very similar. With 94% and 97% for adult occupant protection, the difference is the kind of narrow variation you sometimes see in crash testing between identical cars. Child protection has increased from 84% to 89% and pedestrian protection from 61% to 65%.

What differs is the level of active safety technologies that aim to prevent accidents from happening. These currently aren’t recognised by Euro NCAP’s rating, although this will change in the coming years.

Like the Ford Focus, VW is using the car to make more advanced, accident prevention technologies available to the mass market. Lane departure warnings and systems that brake autonomously will improve safety far more than a few extra percentage points in each of Euro NCAP’s current tests.

There is still more to be done in crash protection. While adult occupant protection for the average male is fine, the protection offered to smaller, larger and weaker adults is far from perfect. Protection of young children in particular needs to improve still. Euro NCAP should also address this in the coming years.

Just as the Golf is the reference point for the small family car market, it is also a yardstick for Euro NCAP’s safety ratings. Euro NCAP plans to encourage the fitting of more accident prevention technologies in the next few years. Clearly Volkswagen agrees that it’s not only better value for its customers, it’s also more effective.

Most importantly for us all is the fact that if the Golf has already started to do this, the rest will follow soon after. These advances in car safety will create enormous benefits for society and change our roads forever.

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