See the huge improvement in the strength of your car over the last 20 years

I’ve been interested in car design for as long as I can remember and, as if I had nothing better to do, was watching the EuroNCAP crash test of the new Land Rover Discovery.

If anyone doubts just how well designed modern cars are watch the film and then, if you’re not of a nervous disposition, watch this film of some tests that didn’t go so well.

Through clever design and careful material choices the Land Rover manages to absorb most of the energy of the collision through its front crumple zones. It does this so successfully that not only can you open the front doors after the collision, but they are completely unmarked.

The second link posted above shows just how much progress has been made in recent years. The 1991 Ford Sierra (31 seconds in) crumples like an empty beer can. I had one back in the day and always thought of it as a sturdy, safe car. Thankfully I never had to put it to the test.

Some cars you would have thought would have done well like the 1997 Mercedes C-Class (5m 35s) aren’t too clever at all. However the true shocker of the bunch has to be the 1986 VW Santana. People generally consider German cars to be well engineered but this crash test is almost insanely bad (9m 17s). It’s hard to believe just how horrific this is, especially bearing in mind this was a large and heavy car.

However, most of the car models on the film are reaching the end of their lives and thankfully, as they gradually disappear from our roads, they are being replaced by much safer, better designed vehicles. The progress designers have made over the last few years has been nothing less than extraordinary.

Before the EuroNCAP crash tests were introduced 23,000 people every year were killed in car accidents in the UK and that’s now been reduced to 8,500, even though there are a lot more cars on the road.