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Which do you think will protect you better? The Mazda CX-30 or Volvo XC40?

Volvo credentials in safety need no further introduction. The Swedish marque was the first to invent three-point seat belts but being Swedes, they care more about the wellbeing of the world around them than money – so they gave away the patent for free, thus waving away their rights to potentially tens of millions of dollars in royalty payments.

Over the next few decades, Volvo continued to set new standards in both active and passive safety. Today, Volvo’s advanced driving aids are one of the best in the world, detecting not just other vehicles, but also large animals, as well as children.

Where other cars stop at autonomous emergency braking, Volvo's systems will perform evasive steering corrections

Volvo’s driving assistance features take evasive steering actions in scenarios that many other equivalent vehicles are not able to cope, to avoid a collision with a vehicle from the opposite direction for example.

 

Volvo City Safety with Intersection Support

Volvo City Safety with Intersection Support detects hazards even if it's not directly in front of the car. 

Volvo’s radars scans wider and further than many other makes, detecting pedestrians even when turning into a junction, or other vehicles when crossing a junction.

Volvo XC40 Euro NCAP

Volvo XC40, pole side impact test

Up until 2018, three of the top-5 safest cars rated by Euro NCAP were made by Volvo, with the Volvo XC40 scoring a near-perfect 97 percent score in adult occupant protection.

Volvo XC40, post-crash, pole side impact test

It’s a record that can only be bettered by a newer, better Volvo, except that it didn’t.

Mazda CX-30 Euro NCAP

Mazda CX-30, pole side impact test

The Mazda CX-30 was an underdog that many didn’t saw coming. Normally, technologically sophisticated premium cars score better than mainstream brand models as the former will come equipped with the latest and the best in safety technology.

Mazda CX-30, post-crash, pole side impact

Mazda however, is not seen as a premium brand – something which the newer generation of Mazdas want to change, so it’s not a brand that you will expect to break Volvo’s record.

Mazda CX-30 Euro NCAP

Mazda CX-30, frontal 40 percent offset barrier test

At the latest test by Euro NCAP, both the Mazda CX-30 and Mazda 3 outdid the Volvo XC40’s record.

The two five-star rated Mazda models scored 99 percent and 98 percent in adult occupant protection, higher than the Volvo XC40’s 97 percent.

In child occupant protection, the Mazda CX-30 scored 86 percent while the Mazda 3 scored 87 percent, equaling the Volvo XC40 but better than the Volvo S60’s 84 percent.

Mazda CX-30 Euro NCAP

Mazda CX-30, post-crash, frontal full width barrier test

The Mazda CX-30’s advanced driving aids were also found to be slightly more effective than the Volvo XC40’s, scoring 77 percent over the Volvo XC40’s 76 percent. The Mazda 3 scored 73 percent, versus the Volvo S60’s 76 percent.

Where both Mazdas pulled a gap over the Volvo is in pedestrian protection, with the Mazda CX-30 and Mazda 3 scoring 80 percent and 81 percent respectively, versus the Volvo XC40 and Volvo S60’s 71 percent and 74 percent respectively.

Mazda 3, frontal full width test

Euro NCAP results for 2019 should only be compared against 2018 results, as tests done in 2017 or earlier were conducted using a slightly different methodology. In other words, results for the models like the Mazda CX-5, Mazda CX-3 or Volvo XC60 – all of which are done earlier, should not be compared with cars tested in 2018 or 2019.  

Both the Mazda CX-30 and Mazda 3 share the same platform and mechanicals underneath, with the CX-30 being a taller riding, crossover variation of the Mazda 3. Both models also share similarly plush interior.

The Mazda 3 currently sells for between RM 139k to RM 160k, the high price is mostly due to additional taxes as it is imported from Japan.

The Mazda CX-30 will be launched soon. Mazda dealers in Malaysia are now collecting bookings. Prices will range from RM 143,119 to RM 173,027

The model will be imported from Japan.

Good progress from Mazda, but that doesn’t mean that a Volvo is any poorer. Remember that lab crash tests like those done by Euro NCAP only tells half the story. In the real world, cars don't crash into box-shaped barriers on a flat ground, without any other vehicles.

Out in the real world, accidents rarely happen the way Euro NCAP lab's single car tests show. For example, cars veer off the road, crash into cars of different size, height and weight. Volvo has a wealth of such real-life scenario data.

Volvo doesn’t design its cars so it can claim the highest scores in lab crash tests like Euro NCAP, which doesn’t necessarily reflect real-life accidents as such scenarios are very difficult to replicate in a lab. 

The Volvo Accident Research Team studies real-life accidents. It has collected over data from over 43,000 real-life accidents involving about 72,000 occupants since 1970 - the most for any car company. 

For example, Volvo car seats are also designed to protect the occupants' spine in many more crash scenarios than those tested by NCAP organizations worldwide. The benefits of such features may not be apparent in a simple, single car lab test like those done by Euro NCAP. 

Irrespective of what the lab test results say, we believe a Volvo will still protect you better in real life but Mazda has certainly raised the level of competition, putting it far ahead of its fellow Japanese peers. Don't expect to pay Honda/Toyota level prices for one.