The Volvo XC60 has been named the winner of the What Car? Safety Award, prompting Thatcham Research to encourage other carmakers to “follow Volvo’s lead”.

A panel of expert judges described the Volvo XC60 as one of the safest cars ever made. The five-door SUV impressed the panel with the protection it offers to occupants in the event of a collision. Crucially, the vehicle is fitted with a host of advanced driver assistance systems designed to prevent crashes from occurring in the first place, including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB).

“The Volvo XC60 achieved a very high adult occupant protection score of 98%, in the European New Car Assessment Programme’s (Euro NCAP’s) toughest crash tests ever,” said Safety Award Judge and Director of Research at Thatcham Research Matthew Avery. “But it is also bursting at the seams with safety technology to avoid the crash happening at all. It is so far ahead of the game that its innovative Cross Traffic Alert and Turn Across Path systems are not yet a part of the Euro NCAP programme.

“This car has always broken new ground. In 2008 the original Volvo XC60 was the first to be launched with standard-fit AEB. Back then, it was a relatively basic system which functioned at low speeds, car-to-car. The AEB systems on the new XC60 can handle a full range of different driving speeds and environments and will also detect vulnerable road users and even large animals.”

Safety campaigners have now re-issued a call for carmakers to fit AEB as standard on all new cars. Currently, less than 7% of cars on UK roads today have standard-fit AEB.

“Standard-fitment of AEB is still not at the levels it should be. Jaguar Land Rover is the only carmaker amongst the top 10 best-selling brands to fit AEB on all new models,” said Avery. “Achieving a five-star Euro NCAP rating without standard-fit AEB will be close to impossible for vehicle manufacturers from 2018 onwards. Many market AEB as an optional extra but with its potential to save so many lives it is far too important not to be fitted as standard.”

Click here for more information on the winning vehicles, the What Car? Safety Award and vehicle safety technologies.