• Night vision cameras for safer trips in the dark
  • Automatic braking to prevent collisions
  • Autonomous parking to put minds at ease

A number of exciting new cars have hit showrooms, many of which boast advanced safety and security features. With new number plates a few weeks away, motoring journalist Leon Poultney (@Blokesincars) looks at some of the best safety features on the market.

An eagle eye view of a car parallel parking by itself. In the top right corner is an inside view of the driver and it shows that he's not touching the steering wheel

1. Active Park Assist – 2017 Ford Fiesta

Ford's autonomous parking functionality was revolutionary for a small car when it launched a few years ago, but now it’s better than ever. The new Fiesta will not only hunt out suitable parallel and perpendicular spots, it will also guide drivers hands-free into spaces with little or no input required.

Better still, it will automatically apply the brakes if it senses an imminent collision during the manoeuvre, avoiding low speed prangs and preventing car insurance claims.

‘Brake interventions can prevent distracted drivers from having low-speed parking bumps, and make parking in tight spaces even less stressful,’ explains Jon Buttress, Ford Fiesta chief engineer.

The system will also help drivers exit a parallel parking space by operating the steering while the driver operates the accelerator and brake.

A car driving at night and the display in the car is showing a live feed of the road ahead.

2. Night Vision Assist – 2017 BMW 5 Series

The infotainment system in the all-new BMW 5 Series is a formidable piece of kit – and in amongst the gesture-controlled functions and park-assist cameras sits an innovative Night Vision system.

A special heat-detecting camera sends a live feed of the road ahead to the Control Display that's located in the centre console.

Drivers can spot vulnerable pedestrians, wildlife and other road users that may not be properly illuminated in pitch black areas before the human eye can make them out.

The technology will even highlight animals and pedestrians on the screen so drivers can easily track their movements and prevent an accident.

A glass display on top of a cars dashboard

3. Active Drive Display – 2017 Mazda CX-5

As cars become more technologically advanced, drivers could find the sheer amount of information available at their fingertips slightly overwhelming and, at worst, distracting.

Jeremy Thomson, Managing Director of Mazda Motors UK, claims its latest CX-5 is ‘one of the most technologically advanced SUVs the Mazda has ever produced,’ but the heads-up display puts only the most important information in front of the driver.

Standard on all Sport Nav trim models, an extremely well-equipped car in its own right, the Active Drive Display projects information directly onto the windscreen in front of the driver, meaning he or she can quickly glance at vehicle speed, turn-by-turn directions and speed limit information (thanks to traffic sign recognition) without taking their eyes off the road.

A graphic of a car driving on a road. The lines in the centre are coloured purple. Suggesting that the new technology recognises the lines and stops the car drifting into the other lane.

4. Pilot Assist – 2017 Volvo XC60

Arguably one of the safest and technologically advanced cars on the market, the Volvo XC60 has cruise control that automatically adjusts speed to surrounding traffic and steering that will automatically take evasive action if it senses a collision.

But its latest Pilot Assist feature is one of the most impressive, as it automatically and very naturally keeps the car in the middle of a motorway lane when the semi-autonomous Adaptive Cruise Control is active.

On-board cameras and sensors constantly monitor the lanes and surrounding traffic, while tiny electronic adjustments to the steering help keep the car in lane, helping to ease the load of longer drives.

A graphic of a car towing a new, futuristic caravan. On the image it says 'Display via MMI monitor' and 'Desired direction controlled via MMI rotary/push-button-control'. On the image it zooms into the tow bar and says 'tow bar with sensor'.

5. Trailer Assistant – 2017 Audi Q7

Many owners invest in a spacious SUV like the new Audi Q7 to help tow trailers, but anyone who has driven with a trailer knows how difficult even the simplest manoeuvres can be.

Audi's Trailer Assistant tech is a semi-autonomous parking assist mode. Drivers can vary the angle of their reverse with a rotary button control in the MMI infotainment system.

The picture from the rear-view camera on the MMI monitor contains handy visual guidelines, and the user simply adjusts the steering angle using the rotary button and by gently pressing the accelerator.

The trailer coupling features a gizmo that registers the angle between towing vehicle and trailer, meaning the user doesn't risk jack-knifing or hitting something.

A blue Nissan driving on a road with a city in the background

6. Intelligent Ride Control and Trace Control – 2017 Nissan Qashqai

Trace Control adjusts brake pressure on individual wheels when tackling corners, giving drivers more confidence that the vehicle will take the best line through the corner.

Intelligent Ride Control similarly applies the brakes when the vehicle senses bumps to prevent what Nissan calls ‘unpleasant body motion’.

‘It's a subtle system but drivers will notice that the ride over big bumps isn't as harsh or jarring as in previous Qashqai models,’ says Nick Francis (@Nick_TheSun), Motoring Editor at The Sun on Sunday.

A red Suzuki parked on a road with mountains in the background

7. Dual Sensor Brake Support – 2017 Suzuki Swift

The Suzuki Swift adds some neat safety tech to its repertoire this year, including a system that harnesses the power of a forward-facing camera and sensors to detect and mitigate collisions.

At speeds between 3mph and 62mph, the system determines the risk of collision with obstacles ahead. If it feels something is awry, it will issue both an audio and visual warning. 

If there is a high risk of collision and the driver stamps on the brakes, the system deploys brake assist, which increases braking force to stop the car quicker.  If the risk of a collision increases even more, the system applies full automatic braking to avoid the collision or reduce damage – impressive considering it comes as standard on SZ5 trim Swifts, which cost less than £15,000.

With new registration plates out in September, August often sees car salesmen making deals on the cars in their lot. If you’re shopping for a new car, why not consider one with the latest safety tech on the market?