Coinciding with its market launch, the Tata Punch mini-SUV has become the fourth made-in-India vehicle (and the third Tata vehicle) tested by vehicle safety watchdog Global New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) to secure an impressive five-star rating in its crash tests. Under the #SaferCarsForIndia campaign – initiated to create awareness about the importance of making vehicles sold in the country safer – Global NCAP has conducted over 40 crashes in the last few years, and model scores have ranged from an abysmal zero stars to a genuinely impressive five stars. We’ve put together the highest scores registered by all models tested to date to bring you a list of the top 10 safest cars on sale in India as rated by Global NCAP.
Of the ten models listed here, four have secured a full five stars, while the remaining models have all racked up four stars. The vehicles listed here are ranked in their star ratings and scores for adult occupant protection (AOP).
Tata Punch – 5 stars (AOP score: 16.45)
Following the Nexon and the Altroz, the Tata Punch, too, has secured five stars for adult occupant protection and four stars for child occupant protection. The Punch registered an adult occupant protection score of 16.45 out of a possible 17 points, the highest of all vehicles tested by Global NCAP to date. Global NCAP subjected Tata’s smallest SUV yet to a frontal offset crash test at a speed of 64 kph, and in its report, noted the Punch provided good protection for the driver and front passenger’s head, neck, chest, and knees. The Punch’s bodyshell was said to be stable and that it was ‘capable of withstanding further loadings. The footwell area, too, was noted to be tough.
Equally impressive is the Tata Punch’s child occupant protection score, which, at 40.89 points out of a potential 49, is second only to that of the Mahindra Thar (41.11 points). With the child seats for the three-year-old and 1.5-year-old dummies installed rearward facing with ISOFIX connectors and support leg, Global NCAP noted the ISOFIX anchors prevented excessive forward movement during the impact and offered good protection the head and chest of both dummies.
Mahindra XUV300 – 5 stars (AOP score: 16.42)
Early in 2020, the Mahindra XUV300 became the third made-in-India vehicle to secure a full five stars in the Global NCAP crash tests. It registered the highest score for an Indian vehicle in the Global NCAP tests, notching up 16.42 points for adult occupant protection out of a potential 17. The compact SUV’s score for child occupant protection was high, too, as it scored 37.44 points out of a possible 49. As standard, the Mahindra XUV300 comes with two airbags, ABS, disc brakes for all four wheels, ISOFIX child seat anchorages, cornering brake control, and front seatbelt pre-tensioners.
Tata Altroz – 5 stars (AOP score: 16.12)
A little before the Mahindra XUV300’s results were published, the Tata Altroz had become the second Indian model to be awarded a five-star rating in the Global NCAP crash tests. Tata’s premium hatchback also managed an impressive 16.13 points out of 17 for adult occupant protection and secured 29 points out of 49 for child occupant protection. The bodyshell was rated ‘stable’ and capable of withstanding further load. The Altroz – which rivals the Maruti Suzuki Baleno and Hyundai i20 – packs two airbags, ABS and ISOFIX child seat anchorages, as standard.
Tata Nexon – 5 stars (AOP score: 16.06)
At the end of 2018, the Tata Nexon made history by becoming the first made-in-India model to secure a full five stars in the Global NCAP crash tests. Initially awarded a four-star rating, Nexon’s final score was revised after it passed a side-impact test meeting UN95 side impact protection requirements and was fitted with a seatbelt reminder system as standard. In addition to its score of 16.06 out of 17 for adult occupant protection, the compact SUV scored 25 points out of 49 for child occupant protection. Along with two airbags and ABS, the Tata Nexon also packs in electronic stability control, traction control, rollover mitigation, and emergency brake assist as standard.
Mahindra XUV700 – 5 stars (AOP score: 16.03)
On 10 November, within a month of results for the Tata Punch being published, Global NCAP awarded five stars to the Mahindra XUV700, which has become only the second Mahindra model – and the first SUV in its segment – to secure this rating. The most basic, five-seat version of the XUV700 notched up 16.03 points out of a potential 17 on adult occupant protection, which is the lowest of all models that have received five stars in GNCAP tests so far. Both the driver and front passenger dummies had good or adequate protection, the bodyshell and footwell area were rated stable and capable of withstanding further loadings.
However, with a score of 41.66 points out of a potential 49, the Mahindra XUV700 recorded the highest score of any vehicle tested to date on child occupant protection. The child dummies – positioned in child seats installed rearward-facing using ISOFIX anchors – were noted to have adequate protection during the crash. The only reason the XUV700 was given four stars for child occupant protection instead of five is that it only offers a lap belt for the middle passenger in the second row, instead of a three-point seat belt. Global NCAP also noted the XUV700 could be made safer still by making standard its optional equipment such as side-body airbags, side head curtain airbags, Electronic Stability Control, and three-point belts for all passengers.
Mahindra Marazzo – 4 stars (AOP score: 12.85)
While it hasn’t been a roaring market success, the Mahindra Marazzo became the first Indian MPV to secure a four-star rating in the Global NCAP crash tests. It scored 12.85 points out of a possible 17 for adult occupant protection, which remains the highest AOP score to date for a four-star-rated vehicle. For child occupant protection, the Marazzo scored a good 22.22 points out of 49. Two airbags, ABS, ISOFIX child seat mounts, and disc brakes for all four wheels are essential safety features offered as standard on the Mahindra MPV.
Volkswagen Polo – 4 stars (AOP score: 12.54)
Despite being well over a decade old in its current form, the Volkswagen Polo remains in the top five safest cars on sale in India as rated by Global NCAP. Tested back in 2014, the Polo had first received a zero-star rating, as the base model tested did not have any airbags. However, Global NCAP retested a model with two front airbags and revised Polo’s rating, following which Volkswagen India made two airbags standard across the range. In addition to racking up 12.54 points on adult occupant protection, the Polo also scored three stars (29.91 points) for child occupant protection. The Polo gets two airbags and ABS as standard.
Mahindra Thar – 4 stars (AOP score: 12.52)
Following a rousing reception in the market, the second-generation Mahindra Thar received another significant image boost when it secured four stars in the Global NCAP crash tests towards the end of 2020. What’s worth noting is that while the three-door 4×4 picked up 12.52 points for adult occupant protection, it registered four stars with 41.11 points for child occupant protection – the highest score for any Global model NCAP has tested to date. The base AX Standard and AX variants – which were on offer at launch – have been discontinued, as they didn’t offer ISOFIX child seat mounts, three-point seatbelts for rear passengers, and a roll cage, which would undoubtedly have had a bearing on the Thar’s final rating. Those features are now available as standard, along with two airbags, ABS, and electronic stability control.
Tata Tigor – 4 stars (AOP score: ICE – 12.52/EV – 12)
On the same day, the Tata Altroz was awarded a five-star rating; the Tata Tigor received a major fillip in the form of a four-star rating in the Global NCAP crash tests. Undergoing a significant revision as part of the BS6 update, the Tigor got a new front-end designed to meet new safety requirements. The compact sedan scored 12.52 points out of a potential 17 for adult occupant protection. Its child occupant protection score of three stars (34.15 points) was also impressive because it does not have ISOFIX child seat mounts as standard.
On 31 August 2021, Global NCAP announced the updated Tata Tigor EV Ziptron, too, had secured four stars for adult as well as child occupant protection in its crash tests, registering an adult occupant protection score of 12 points out of a potential 17 and 37.24 points out of a possible 49 for child occupant protection, the latter being higher than the score for the combustion-engine model. Global NCAP also said that the Tigor EV would be eligible for an even higher rating with a few more safety features.
Tata Tiago – 4 stars (AOP score: 12.52)
Being essentially identical to the Tigor, the Tata Tiago, too, was awarded an exact four-star rating in the Global NCAP crash tests. Tata’s entry-level hatchback was significantly redesigned as part of a midlife update that coincided with the implementation of BS6 emission norms and scored the same 12.52 points out of a potential 17 for adult occupant protection as the Tigor. The Tiago also gets dual airbags and ABS as standard but misses out on ISOFIX child seat anchorages. Despite this omission, it has scored the same three stars (34.15 points) for child occupant protection as the Tigor.
Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza – 4 stars (AOP score: 12.51)
The only model on this list from India’s biggest carmaker is the Maruti Suzuki Vitara Brezza. Since its launch, a model that has enjoyed tremendous success with over six lakh units sold to date, the Vitara Brezza is the first and only Maruti Suzuki offering to have notched up four stars in the Global NCAP crash tests. It recorded 12.51 points out of 17 for adult occupant protection and 17.93 points out of 49 for child occupant protection. As standard, the Brezza packs two airbags, ABS, ISOFIX child seat anchorages, and front seatbelt pre-tensioners.
Renault Triber – 4 stars (AOP score: 11.62)
On 1 June 2021, the seven-seat Renault Triber became the first model from the French carmaker – and only the second MPV sold in India – to be awarded a four-star rating in the Global NCAP crash tests. The Renault Triber scored a four-star rating on the adult occupant protection front, scoring 11.62 points out of a potential 17. As per Global NCAP’s report, the Triber – tested in its most basic specification with two airbags and ABS – provided ‘good’ protection to the driver and front passenger’s head, neck and knees. The Triber secured three stars for child occupant protection, scoring 27 points out of a potential 49 despite missing ISOFIX child seat mounts.
(This list only comprises vehicles currently on sale in India. Two more models – the Toyota Etios and Tata Zest – received four-star ratings from Global NCAP but discontinued.)