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Green cars winning safety stars

The five-star NCAP score for the Leaf is a major breakthrough and sets a safety benchmark for electric cars.

It's the first full electric car to get the maximum safety score, although a range of petrol-electric hybrids, including the Toyota Camry, which has just moved up in local testing, have managed a five-star result.

The new Lexus CT200h hybrid, already on sale in Australia, also got five stars as every car tested under the latest Euro NCAP program managed the top level.

The Leaf result is a major breakthrough and sets a benchmark for electric cars including the Mitsubishi iMiEV, which got a four-star score earlier this year.

"The Nissan Leaf proves that EVs can be equally safe as common cars. The standard is now set for the next generation of cars," says Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP.

"The Leaf has a specially-designed battery pack below the rear-seat compartment, making sure that not only occupants are well protected in a crash, but also that the risks of battery damage or high voltage leaking are reduced to zero."

The other four cars to get five stars from Euro NCAP are led by a new Ford Focus with an improved safety focus. Two of the latest systems in the car - Active City Stop and Lane Keeping Aid - are given the latest Advanced award under Euro NCAP, although there is no confirmation yet that they will be available when the Focus comes to Australia.

imageIt's no surprise that the Volvo V60 - the station wagon version of the five-star S60 sedan - gets five stars, with Euro NCAP giving it a top score for safety assist equipment including its driver-seet speed limiter and an Advanced tick for the City Safety package.

The Peugeot 508 and Citroen DS4, both expected in Australia, got five stars although Euro NCAP says the French cars have relatively low scores for pedestrian protection. Euro NCAP will increase the percentage of pedestrian scores from the current 40 per cent to 60 per cent in 2012.