The first hybrid car to be crash-tested by Euro NCAP, the Toyota Prius, was one of eight cars to achieve the top five star occupant rating and also received the highest rating for child protection.

Euro has announced results for eight cars that have achieved the top five star accolade for occupant protection in Europe’s leading independent crash tests.

Best in class for occupant protection was awarded to Toyota’s Corolla Verso and BMW’s Z4.

Honda’s Jazz [Fit] became the first supermini to be awarded the three star Euro NCAP rating for pedestrian protection.

Renault’s Mégane Coupe-Cabriolet was the first car ever to achieve the maximum score possible in the stringent frontal impact test.

The Euro NCAP rating requires occupants to fasten their belts.

The organisation noted that Volvo’s new S40 has an industry first: an intelligent seat belt reminder for the rear seats.

It rated a special mention: “This is a significant development as increased seat belt wearing rates are essential if we are to maximise the enormous safety gains achieved by Euro NCAP over recent years and save the 7,000 fatalities attributed to non-belt use in Europe,” the organisation said in a statement.

Euro NCAP chairman said: “These latest test results are the second to give cars a specific rating of between one and five stars for the protection given to children. However, it is important to note that the rating applies to the car in combination with the restraints used in our tests. It does not act as a general rating for the car or the model of child restraint.

“I am particularly pleased to see that eight cars achieved the coveted 5 star Euro NCAP rating for occupant protection and note that manufacturers are setting targets for new designs of car at four and five stars.

“However, whilst Honda continues to lead in the development of pedestrian friendly car fronts, I am disappointed to see that other manufacturers lag so far behind. Manufacturers have risen to the challenge for occupant and child protection; it is now time for them to redouble their efforts and move forward in this safety area.”