The S Class Mercedes has some really interesting safety features, see this 6.8M PDF file for details. If you are interested in technology then you want to read it just to learn about all the cool features - it's got more technology than a Prius!
The S class includes the following features to protect the occupants in the event of a crash:
- Tire pressure monitors
- Electronic Stability Program (ESP) to selectively apply the brakes to reduce the risk of skidding
- Active suspension
- Pre-Safe is a management feature that recognises a potential collision by the steering and braking patterns of the driver and prepares the vehicle for an impact. This can involve adjusting the sun-roof, the seat-belts, and the driver's seat position to prepare for impact, closing the side windows, and inflating air chambers in the sides of the seats.
- Head rests that automatically adjust in the event of a rear impact
The following features reduce the risk and/or severity of a crash:
- Night view (infra-red) display gives a display of potential obstacles ahead without dazzling oncoming traffic
- Distronic Plus is a brake assistance package that includes automatic braking based on radar surveillance of the traffic ahead
- 4Matic is a new feature that combines AWD with the traction-control feature that has become common on all expensive cars. This means that when any combination of wheels starts to spin on water or ice the brakes will be applied to them so that the wheels that have good grip can still be used for acceleration.
After a crash there are more safety features that can help you:
- The engine can be automatically turned off after an impact and if necessary the fuel supply can also be cut
- The hazard lights and emergency interior lights can be automatically activated
- The side windows can be partially lowered, if your car lands in water deep enough to submerge it then you MUST open the windows as soon as possible - otherwise water pressure may make it impossible to open the doors - people forget this so it's good to have an automatic feature
- Automatic door unlocking after an impact (good for rescuing unconscious occupants)
- Cutting points marked on the windscreen and rear window for the benefit of emergency workers who need to cut the roof off with the "jaws of life"
These features are documented as being available in the latest S Class, I haven't investigated what is available in the cheaper models and I'm not even sure where to find information on the safety features available in older models (a second-hand E class is more in my price range). But if I won the lottery a S class Merc would be high on my list of things to buy!
If you know of other cars that have a similar set of safety features to the S class and cost less then please let me know.
I will probably write a blog post about the BMW safety features in the near future. I couldn't do so immediately because the BMW web site sucks. They have a form for me to fill in contact details so that they can post me a brochure (I want to read it NOW ONLINE). The form doesn't like my postcode and refuses to proceed (it should at least have an option for them to contact me via email or phone).