Cars manufactured by Mercedes-Benz and Renault provide the best passenger protection, according to crash-test results published by the Consumer Council. Models built by Land Rover and Suzuki received the worst scores for protection of both occupants and pedestrians. The European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP), conducted in Italy, tested 22 car models sold in Hong Kong. The results were published by the Consumer Council in the latest issue of Choice Magazine. Council spokesman Matthew Ng said safety was often the most important factor when buying a car, but while passenger protection was improving, pedestrian protection had declined. For the first time, one car, the Suzuki Grand Vitara XL-7 2002, received a score of zero for pedestrian protection. It also received the second worst score for passenger safety. 'It means that the chance of killing a pedestrian involved in an accident [with this car] is higher than others,' Dr Ng said. 'These problems are usually related to the design of the bumper bar and the front impact from a car.' The best performer in terms of pedestrian safety was the 2002 Honda CRV, with bodywork specially designed to decrease the severity of injuries. Occupants received the least protection in the 2003 Land Rover Freelander, a small off-road car designed almost a decade ago, while the 2003 Renault Megane II was the first small family car to achieve the top five-star rating for occupant safety. Also in the five-star category were the 2003 Renault Vel Satis, Mercedes E-Class 220 CDi Elegance, Mercedes C-Class 2001/02 and 2003 Saab 9-3. Most of the other cars achieved four stars for passenger protection.