In recent years, the increasing number of cars obtaining top marks for adult occupant protection in Euro NCAP's tests has led some to demand the introduction of a new benchmark and a sixth star.

However, recent results announced by Euro NCAP prove that while some manufacturers are forging ahead in their safety development, others still have a long way to go. Of the six cars tested by Euro NCAP in this recent phase, only two achieved the top five star accolade for occupant protection in Europe 's leading independent crash tests.

"I am pleased to see that two of the six cars have achieved a maximum five-star rating for adult occupant protection. It is reassuring that more and more car companies are now placing an emphasis on safety and we are happy to recognise their achievements. However, we want to encourage the highest levels of safety in all cars and, in that regard, there is still work to be done. Euro NCAP will continue to provide consumers with the best information available regarding the safety of new cars," said Claes Tingvall, Euro NCAP Chairman.

The Chevrolet Aveo was singled out by Euro NCAP for the unacceptably high risk of life-threatening injury to the driver's chest, which was highlighted by the frontal test. As a result, the car's final star was struck through. Although the Aveo scored enough points overall to qualify for three stars, Euro NCAP insists on a minimum level of performance in each of the frontal and side impacts. While the Aveo's performance in side impact was good, it did not score enough points in the frontal test to be given a three-star rating.

Yet, the Chevrolet was not the only car to come under Euro NCAP's scrutiny. The Kia Cerato obtained poor results in the side impact tests with a high risk of injury to the driver's chest.

In contrast, the Peugeot 207 joins the growing list of superminis to be awarded the five-star Euro NCAP rating in adult occupant protection, proving that even the smallest of cars can be safe on European roads.

The Alfa Romeo 159 also received impressive results for its adult occupant protection with a five-star Euro NCAP rating. This is the first Alfa Romeo to have received five stars in Euro NCAP's adult occupant protection test. More worrying were the Alfa Romeo's pedestrian protection results: only a one-star rating.

"I am pleased to see that Alfa Romeo achieved the coveted five-star Euro NCAP rating for adult occupant protection, yet I am disappointed that they have not shown the same commitment to pedestrian protection. There is a clear difference emerging between those car manufacturers who are trying to improve the protection their cars offer to pedestrians and those who still see that as a low priority. When cars can achieve creditable results without any advanced technology, there is no excuse for the very low levels of performance we have seen in this phase. There is no reason why cars cannot now provide a high level of protection to all road users," said Tingvall.