The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) marked its 20th anniversary this year, and has released this crash test video that demonstrates the significant improvements made to vehicle safety since its foundation in 1997.

The test involved a 20-year old Rover 100 (aka Metro) and a 2015 Honda Jazz, which is said to be comparable in price, when adjusted for inflation, to the Rover. Both cars were put through a simulated 64 km/h (40 mph) front off-set collision, which led to some alarming results.

As you can clearly see, the Rover’s front end crumples due to the force of the impact, with the car’s steering wheel and accompanying airbag pushed aside as a result. The severe deformation of the car’s body also meant that tools were required to extract the occupants, according to the assessment programme.

According to Euro NCAP, the driver and passengers of the Rover would have been killed or seriously injured in such a collision. By stark contrast, the Jazz performed much better than the Rover, with a stronger passenger safety cell and a higher airbag count. Passengers in the Honda would be able to walk away from such a crash, having only sustained a bruise or two.

“We are very proud – as we mark 20 years at the forefront of road safety – that Euro NCAP’s programme of safety tests has achieved major, life-saving improvements in cars and has helped Europe reach the lowest road fatality rate for any region in the world,” said Euro NCAP secretary general, Michiel van Ratingen.

Since its foundation, Euro NCAP has published over 630 safety ratings, crash-tested around 1,800 cars and collectively spent millions of euros to make cars safer. The first Euro NCAP crash test results were revealed on February 4, 1997, involving seven popular cars of the time – Ford Fiesta, Volkswagen Polo, Fiat Punto, Nissan Micra, Vauxhall/Opel Corsa, Renault Clio and Rover 100 – with the latter being the only one-star rated car.

These tests exposed the safety shortcomings in various family cars, forcing manufacturers to redesign their cars to offer improved safety in the event of an accident, and more recently, preventing accidents from happening in the first place. Through its efforts, safety tech that were non-existent or optional such as driver and passenger airbags, side protection airbags, belt reminders and electronic stability control are now standard on all cars sold in Europe.

“The impact of these tests cannot be overstated. Until Euro NCAP, consumers only had the manufacturers’ word for it. Now we have the safest cars ever and the safety levels of each car are there for all to see. This success could only be achieved by actively working together in Europe under one umbrella and by continuing to invest in better safety,” stated Euro NCAP president and Thatcham chief technical officer, Andrew Miller.