Volvo was the only manufacturer to score good ratings for all its models tested in two independent studies on occupant protection from whiplash injury.

Volvo was the only manufacturer to score good ratings for all its models tested in two independent studies on occupant protection from whiplash injury.

Although the UK’s Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) questioned the findings, saying that “some aspects of the test are too crude”, Volvo’s V70, XC90, S40, S60 and S80 all received good ratings.

The SMMT also said the “results have been interpreted to tell only part of the story” and did not support “real world accident data”. It pointed out that the tests using a crash test dummy were based on a standard mid-height setting for the seats’ head restraints.

Very few cars were rated good, and several were automatically rated poor as they did not meet even the basic standards since the head rests could not be raised high enough to protect taller occupants.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, responsible for the parallel study conducted in the US, commended Volvo, which it said led the way in whiplash protection.

It also noted that the adjustment and positioning of the headrest was crucial in the event of a collision.

"The institute recommends an adjustable restraint be positioned at least level with the top of the ears, about nine centimetres below the top of the head. For the restraint to work properly, the distance between the back of the head and the restraint should be as small as possible, and no more than ten centimetres."

"We are very pleased that the Volvo cars have performed in line with our expectations," said Ingrid Skogsmo, safety director at the Volvo Car Corporation.

The Whiplash Protection System (Whips) was introduced in 1998 and today is a standard feature in all Volvos.

Vehicles scoring a poor rating in the UK tests included the BMW 3 Series, Citroën C2 and C3, Honda CR-V and Jazz, Jaguar X-Type, Land Rover Freelander, Mercedes C-Class, Renault Clio, Toyota Corolla and Volkswagen Polo.

In the US the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and 5 Series (except those with sports seats), Honda Civic and Accord, Hyundai Elantra and Sonata, Jaguar X-Type, Mazda6 and Toyota Camry were also poorly rated.