Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mercedes S class and car safety

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).


Np237 said...

You might want to have a look at the Citro├źn C6, which is also a technology monster. Many of the features you describe (like tire pressure monitors, active suspension, engine shutdown or hazard light control) are standard on the lower-end C5. The C6 also features:
- active head restraints,
- directional lamps,
- head-up display,
- lane departure warning system (that one must be awesome for long highway trips),
- a pop-up bonnet to protect pedestrians when hitting them.

Some features, like the hydractive suspension and directional lamps, are not homologated in the US, but I don't know for Australia.

Bastian Venthur said...

Something is wrong with your feed I think. Your post somehow stays on top of planet.d.o although newer posts are available.

Miriam Ruiz had a similar problem a few weeks ago, something was wrong with the timezone setting or something.

etbe said...

Bastian, this post has a time stamp of 10:42 PM on the 1st of March. As of this moment on the post is listed with a time stamp of 06:42 PM.

This doesn't appear to be a time-stamp issue. It's also something I can't control as I don't have admin access to blogger or to Planet Debian. It's probably best to talk to the Planet Debian admin team about it.

agi said...

I own a Mercedes A Class. Yes, it's full of tech gadgets,.. that brake down.

I had my gear box (a wonderful thing when it works, CVT, Mercedes' Autotronic) serviced twice. The first time it broke down in Paris (1400 kms from home). The second time 400 kms from home.

I had my 'automatic' electric windows serviced seven times, and they didn't manage to fix them. I gave up. The electric windows decide to go backwards when using the automatic close function (as if they detected an obstacle).

They put 1 extra liter of oil the first time I took it for service. My A class is a diesel with turbocompressor. If you know what I'm talking about you know how good is too much oil in there. I didn't used to check oil after having my car serviced. Now I do.

I can go on, but it's not worth it. Mercedes used to make excellent cars. Now they live on their fame, and make shitty quality cars.

I don't know elsewhere, but in Spain all you get is 2 years warranty, wonder why?

If I could only get my old Peugeot back...

etbe said...

Agi, while 1 is not a statistical number, it does sound like you had some serious problems - particularly the extra liter of oil (there is no excuse for such bad service).

I have to wonder whether the A class has lower quality than the traditional Mercedes. I would hope that for the more expensive S class they would put in a lot more effort and provide a better quality of service and support.

agi said...

I complained to Mercedes customer support. They were very kind did not to help at all.

I put a claim in the government customer care, still waiting.

Now I have two A4s on my back windows warning future buyers on Mercedes' service (the car is quite OK, it had some problems, any car have them. But the service is simply unacceptable).

Two days ago a guy in a Merc ML, stopped next to me in a traffic light. 'I had to change the electric windows three times, and the central locking two. Great idea the A4s on your windows'. That's what he said.

Again, cars have failures, specially those with lots of electronics. But when you pay for a Merc (+70EUR per service hour) you should receive a service that shows.