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A crash test video comparison between cars built 20 years apart demonstrates dramatically the improvements made in car safety over that time.

Euro Ncap (New Car Assessment Programme) released the footage to mark the 20th anniversary of their European safety scheme.

In the video, a 1997 Rover 100 and a 2017 Honda Jazz are put through a head-on collision at 65 kilometres per hour to demonstrate the safety advances since the Euro Ncap was launched in February 1997.

Euro Ncap has crashed 1800 cars in tests at a cost of €160 million (NZ$234m) since 1997 and claims that has helped save more than 78,000 lives while forcing a rethink in the way vehicles were designed to prevent accidents and save lives.

In the test, the Rover buckles significantly, the front windscreen smashes and the front is pushed back into the driver and front passenger compartment. There is a driver's side airbag but the crash test dummy's head still hits the dashboard.

The Honda Jazz, however, shows how the design of a modern car allows energy to be absorbed or dissolved around the occupants. The front windscreen remains in intact, there are airbags throughout the interior and the engine bay does not comeback into the cabin space.

When Euro Ncap tests were first revealed in 1997 they sparked outrage from consumer groups, members of the public and the media while leading car manufacturers attacked the tests, claiming they were so severe that it was impossible for a car to achieve the then top rating of four stars. Five months later, however, Volvo's S40 became the first four-star car for occupant protection.

New Zealand vehicles are tested along almost identical lines as part of the Australasian New Car Assessment Programme which has been publishing safety ratings since 1993. Ancap works in partnership with New Zealand and Australian automobile clubs and the NZ and Australian governments.

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