Three other new cars on sale in the UK have been awarded top ratings for occupant protection. The Peugeot 807 scored five stars, which also applies to the Citroen C8 and Fiat Ulysse as they have the same basic design and safety systems.
The British-built Avensis includes nine airbags as standard, as well as visual and audible seatbelt reminders. Although other cars have been awarded five stars in the past, the Avensis scored a total of 34 points for occupant protection, while the previous highest score was 33 points.
The Avensis and Peugeot 807 were tested according to more stringent criteria than previous assessments, but they bring the number of five star cars available in the UK up to 10, alongside the Renault Megane, Renault Laguna, Renault Vel Satis, Mercedes C-class and E-class, and the Saab 9-3. However, both the Toyota and Peugeot scored one star for pedestrian safety – an area where the maximum result to date has been three stars – despite their high marks for occupant protection.
Max Mosley, Euro NCAP chairman, said: 'The results for the Toyota Avensis are particularly impressive because they are the first to be published in accordance with an updated and more demanding Euro NCAP crash test protocol.
'As of January 1, 2003, Euro NCAP adopted a new deformable barrier face in the side impact, and the use of an improved side-impact crash test dummy.'
Graham Smith, managing director of Toyota GB, said: 'We are very proud that the new Avensis sets a benchmark for safety with a record score. Toyota engineers designed everything on the car to a superior level of quality, aiming to give customers the best in many areas, including running costs, reliability and safety.'
Peugeot UK managing director Christian Géraud said: 'The high level of safety achieved by the Peugeot 807 highlights the degree of consideration given from the outset to the issue of protecting occupants.'