India’s Top 10 safest cars as rated by Global NCAP

by Ajit Dalvi 16 Oct 2021


The soon-to-be-launched Tata Punch mini-SUV has been in the news this week for being the latest made-in-India passenger vehicle to have aced the Global NCAP crash test with its 5-star rating.

The global automotive safety watchdog, which has been carrying out its Safer Cars for India programme, since 2014, can be credited with helping enhance the safety quotient in Indian cars, which is also having an impact in the marketplace. Recent years have seen Indian car buyers opt for safer cars. Before we get to the Top 10 safest cars in India, let’s look at how GNCAP, which takes the entry level version of each model, scores its crash test ratings.

How does Global NCAP score cars?
Technically, a car cannot ‘fail’ an NCAP test, as it can a government regulation test. Each car under the NCAP, as you may be familiar, is given a rating on a 5-star scale – the higher the star rating, the safer the car. The rating itself is based on the Adult Occupant Protection and Child Occupant Protection scores resulting from the crash test. These scores are primarily derived from readings of the crash-test dummies but additional points may be awarded for the presence of certain safety features.

Additionally, Global NCAP mandates a driver’s side airbag as the minimum requirement to qualify for a one star rating. This should explain why non-airbag versions of some cars received zero stars, while airbag-equipped versions tested later were rated 4-star cars. In time, more requirements will be introduced too. For instance, ESC could become a minimum star requirement in the tests on Indian cars in the years to come.

The 17-point Adult Occupant Protection score takes into account driver injury readings from four body regions – head and neck; chest; knee, femur and pelvis, and leg and foot. An additional point is given to cars with a seatbelt reminder, four-channel ABS and some form of side-impact protection, tested by a relevant authority.

The primary basis for the 49-point Child Occupant Protection score is readings from the 18- month-old and 3-year-old-sized dummies placed in manufacturer-recommended child seats. Additional points are given for child restraint system markings, provision of three point seat belts and Isofix, among other things.

Now, let take a look at the Top 10 best performing Indian cars in the Global NCAP tests conducted till now.

No. 1 – Tata Punch
Rating: 5 stars
Adult Occupant Score: 16.45 out of 17 points

Tata Motors’ recently revealed Punch mini-SUV has aced the crash test with its 5-star rating. The Tata Punch has achieved a five-star rating for adult occupant protection and four stars for child occupant protection in Global NCAP’s latest #SaferCarsForIndia crash tests.

The Tata Punch was tested in the most basic safety specification, fitted with two airbags, ABS brakes and ISOFIX anchorages. GNCAP says the Punch can be improved by equipping the model with standard Electronic Stability Control (ESC), side head impact protection systems as standard, and three-point belts in all seating positions. It is important to highlight once again Tata’s decision to install both child occupants as rearward facing, demonstrating that this position offers the best safety option as both child dummies received good protection.

No. 2 – Mahindra XUV300
Rating: 5 stars

Adult Occupant Score: 16.42 out of 17 points

On January 21, 2020, the Mahindra XUV300 was put to the test and it came out with flying colours – a solid five stars for adult occupant protection and four stars for child occupant protection. Until the Punch punched above its weight earlier this month, the Mahindra XUV300 was the model with the highest combined result in Global NCAP’s #SaferCarsForIndia crash tests with the highest score in both the adult and child protection categories. The XUV300 has also shown the lowest level of intrusion and best side impact crashworthiness performance of any model tested so far.

The XUV300 achieved a solid five stars for adult occupant protection and four stars for child occupant protection. The XUV300 offers 2 frontal airbags as standard, and it offers ESC and side impact airbags as optional. Its structure and its footwell area were rated as stable. Head and neck protection for adult occupants was good. Chest protection for passenger was good and driver chest protection was adequate. Femur and knees showed good protection as well. Global NCAP tested the side impact protection of the XUV300 under UN95 regulation, the car comfortably passed the requirements when tested on either passenger or driver side.

Child occupant protection showed good protection for the 18 month old dummy with the CRS installed rearward facing and using the standard ISOFIX anchorages and a support leg.

No. 3 – Tata Altroz
Rating: 5 stars

Adult Occupant Score: 16.13 out of 17 points

Testing a week before the Mahindra XUV300, Tata Motors’ premium Altroz hatchback bagged the top five-star rating from the GNCAP crash test, thereby becoming the second Tata model after the Nexon to do so.  The Altroz achieved a solid five stars for adult occupant protection and three stars for child occupant protection.

The Altroz offers two frontal airbags as standard. Its structure and its footwell area were rated as stable. Head and neck protection for adult occupants was good. Chest protection for both adults was adequate. Child occupant protection showed good protection for the 18-month-old dummy with the CRS installed rearward facing and using the standard ISOFIX anchorages.

No. 4 – Tata Nexon
Rating: 4 stars
Adult Occupant Score: 13.56 out of 17 points

Tested on August 7, 2018, the Tata Nexon SUV was the first made-in-India car tested that year.  The Nexon, with frontal double airbags, frontal double pretensioners, ABS brakes and ISOFIX anchorages, achieved a strong result of four stars for adult occupant protection and three stars for child occupant protection. 

Tata released the Nexon compact SUV with safety features that can offer four- star adult occupant protection with good protection for head and neck of driver and passenger and adequate protection for their chests with a stable structure at 64kph offset deformable barrier crash test. The ISOFIX anchorages with ISOFIX Child Restraint Systems (CRS) helped the model to achieve three stars for child occupant protection. The rearward facing CRS installed with ISOFIX anchorages showed good protection to the 18-month-old child diummy, while the ISOFIX forwards facing installed CRS offered good protection for head and limited protection to the chest.

No. 5 Toyota Etios
Rating: 4 stars

Adult Occupant Score: 13 out of 16 points

In late 2015, Toyota decided to equip all of its Etios models with 2 airbags and 2 pretensioners and asked Global NCAP to test the car and provide a star rating for its crashworthiness.

The test of the Toyota Etios showed a good level of adult occupant protection for the frontal passenger; achieving a rating of four stars and two stars in child occupant protection.

No. 6 – Mahindra Marazzo
Rating: 4 stars
Adult Occupant Score: 12.85 out of 17 points

Mahindra & Mahindra’s MPV did well in its crash test on December 7, 2018, achieving a four-star result. The Marazzo with standard double airbags, ABS, SBR for driver and ISOFIX anchorages, reached four stars in Adult Occupant Protection and two stars for Child Occupant Protection.

The model, according to GNCAP, offers good protection for both adult head and neck, marginal protection for the driver chest and adequate protection for passenger chest. The pedals showed some risk for the lower legs due to their displacement. The 18-month-old child dummy received good protection while the 3 year old child passenger showed high readings in chest and head exposure.

No. 7 – Mahindra Thar
Rating: 4 stars
Adult Occupant Score: 12.52 out of 17 points

Tested on November 25, 2020, the new Mahindra Thar scored a four-star rating for both adult and child occupants. The SUV was tested in its basic safety specification and two airbags. The Thar also meets the side impact UN 95 regulation.

GNCAP testers notes said, “Driver and passenger’s head and neck showed good protection. Driver’s chest offered adequate protection and passenger chest showed good protection. The structure was rated as stable but the footwell area was rated as unstable, not being capable of withstanding further loadings. Both adult knee areas were optimized to reduce significant injuries. Both child occupants received almost full protection during the test. The Thar offers standard ISOFIX anchorages and top tether together with 3 point belts for all seating positions. 

No. 8 – Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza
Rating: 4 stars
Adult Occupant Score: 12.51 out of 17 points

The sole Maruti Suzuki product in the Top 10, the Vitara Brezza scored 4 stars on its test. According to GNCAP testers, “The protection offered to the driver and passenger head and neck was good. Driver chest showed marginal protection while passenger chest showed good protection. Driver’s knees showed marginal protection and passenger’s knees marginal and good protection as they could impact with dangerous structures behind the dashboard supported by the Tranfascia tube. The bodyshell was rated as stable and it was capable of withstanding further loadings. The car offers standard sBR for driver and standard ABS.”

As regards the child occupant, the statement said: “”The child seat for the 3-year-old was installed FWF with ISOFIX and top tether and was able to prevent excessive forward movement during the impact with good protection for the head while marginal protection to the chest. The 18-month-old CRs was installed with ISOFIX and top tether forward facing which explains the loss of head points, it showed poor protection for the head and limited protection for the chest. The recommended CRSs did not show incompatibility. The vehicle offers standard ISOFIX and top tether anchorages in the two outboard rear seats and does not offer 3-point belts in all seating positions”

No. 9 – Tata Tigor EV 
Rating: 4 stars
Adult occupant score: 12 out of 17 points

The Tata Tigor EV, the first electric vehicle (EV) ever tested by Global NCAP, achieved four stars for both adult and child occupants. 

The recently launched Tata Tigor EV was assessed in its most basic safety specification, fitted with two airbags as standard. GNCAP says further improvement could be made to the Tigor's rating by equipping the model with standard fitment of Electronic Stability Control (ESC), side impact protection, three-point belts in all seating positions and ISOFIX connectors. 

No. 10 – Renault Triber
Rating: 4 stars
Adult occupant score: 11.62 out of 17 points

Tested on June 1, 2021, the  Renault Triber achieved an encouraging four-star rating for adult occupants and three stars for child occupants in Global NCAP’s latest round of #SaferCarsForIndia crash tests.

Renault’s compact crossover was tested in its most basic safety specification, with two airbags. The Triber showed significant improvements from previous Renault models tested by Global NCAP.

Alejandro Furas, Secretary General of Global NCAP said, “Renault has significantly improved adult occupant protection performance in frontal crashes compared with our 2016 tests on the Kwid. The Triber sets a strong baseline for the manufacturer, and we encourage Renault to maintain this important progress as a minimum with the goal of achieving 5 star levels of safety.”

Made-in-India passenger vehicles and improved safety
Of the Top 10 performing models, Tata Motors accounts for four models and Mahindra & Mahindra three, which indicates the strides the two vehicle manufacturers have taken on the safety front. The proof of the enhanced safety standards in their models is also reflected in the strong demand for these models in the ultra-competitive, value-conscious Indian market. Both Tata Motors and Mahindra & Mahindra have seen their PV and UV market share grow in recent times. 

Following the latest test of the Tata Punch, David Ward, President of the Towards Zero Foundation said, ““We are obviously delighted with Tata’s safety result in this voluntary test. Global NCAP encourages manufacturers to participate in our programme on a voluntary basis to help create a market for safety. It is very satisfying to see leading manufacturers like Tata and Mahindra engage so positively with our #SaferCarsforIndia agenda. It remains disappointing that not all car makers in the Indian market have such a strong commitment to safety improvements.”