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buying advice

How to buy the safest second-hand car on a €15k budget - and 3 models to see first

We pick the cars that aced those safety tests.

NATURALLY, ANY PARENT will want the safest possible vehicle in which to transport their family.

Ever increasing safety standards mean that many new and used cars on the market today have significantly more safety features than those of a decade ago.

Almost all new cars are put through the Euro NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) test, which is generally viewed as a good measure of the car’s safety. Not only does the test score cars on their performance in a crash – it also rates them according to the standard safety features they have.

Items such as autonomous emergency braking and lane assist contribute to the car’s overall score.

One important point to remember is that every year the Euro NCAP test becomes more difficult, and we see fewer cars receive the full five-star mark. That’s not to say that these vehicles are less safe, it may just be that the base model (which is the version that is tested) may not have all of the safety technology and assistance systems that may appear on mid-level or higher models. Nevertheless, a four or five-star car in today’s test is still far safer than one from a decade ago.

Here’s a look at some of the good choices available for €15,000 or less that score well on safety.

1. Ford Fiesta (2013-2017)

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If you’re on a budget and aren’t looking for a large car, the Ford Fiesta is a good choice. The model was updated in 2012, and it is this version that scored a five-star score in the Euro NCAP test, with 91 and 86 per cent for adult and child occupant protection respectively.

There is plenty of choice in the used market for these, so it is worth looking around for the right one. The 1.0-litre EcoBoost petrol engine can be economical to run if you make short journeys, but try to go for a low mileage example if you can. For those doing longer distances, Ford offers a few diesel variants also.

2. Kia Sportage (2010-2016)

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The second-generation Kia Sportage was a considerable sales success in Ireland, so there’s no shortage of choice in the used market. You can pick up a good 2013 example for less than the €15k budget set out here.

Its diesel engine doesn’t cost a fortune to tax or run, and on the road, it handles well while providing a decent amount of boot and cabin space. Front, side chest and head airbags add to its safety, providing 93 percent adult and 86 percent child occupant protection.

3. Renault Grand Scenic (2009-2016)

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If you’re looking for a used seven-seater, there is an increasing selection available on the used market. One of the originators in the MPV area was Renault, and the previous generation Grand Scenic provides functionality and interior space at an affordable price.

It may not have the same style as a crossover, but it does score well in space and can be used in five or seven-seat form.

While the test has moved on a good deal since the Grand Scenic took it in 2009, it did score a full five stars back then with 91 percent adult, and 76 percent child occupant rating, as well as a 99 percent safety assist score. Some models were also fitted with the optional side head airbag, and it features Isofix mounting points in the rear.

Do choose a model with a good service history and preferably low mileage if possible.

More: Buying a first car for your son or daughter? 4 models you should really see first>

More: How to buy a premium estate with change from €20k>

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