At the prestigious 2007 What Car? Car of the Year Awards, Mercedes Benz received two prizes - for its pioneering safety work, and once again for the S-Class luxury Saloon.
In the centenary year of the birth of the father of automotive safety, Béla Barényi - a Mercedes engineer who invented crumple zones and the passenger safety cell amongst other devices - the Safety Award is particularly timely.
Commenting on the Award, Steve Fowler, Group Editor What Car? explained: “For half a century, Mercedes has been at the forefront of safety innovation and research. Mercedes fits stability control to every model in the range. Where it leads, others follow.
“Just recently the company has surpassed its previous efforts [with the innovative PRE-SAFE predictive occupant protection system] as well as a string of impressive Euro NCAP crash test scores - five stars is the norm for occupant safety with impressive results for child and pedestrian safety. It is this egalitarian approach as much as innovative recent developments that nets Mercedes this award,” he concluded.
Mercedes Benz started equipping its cars with the ESP Electronic Stability Program to its models in 1997, and all models in the range have now had this technology for years. ABS with Brake Assist, Acceleration Skid Control also feature on every car in the range alongside a host of advanced airbags and occupant restraint systems.
PRE-SAFE first appeared in 2002, and is now standard on six model ranges. In the moments before an accident, PRE-SAFE protects the vehicle occupants by electronically pre-tensioning the seat belts, moving electric seats to a more upright position, and if necessary, closing windows and the sunroof. If an accident is avoided the systems reset themselves.
Collecting the award on behalf of the company was Prof. Dr.-Ing. Thomas Breitling, Director Active Safety / Vehicle Dynamics / Energy Management, Passenger Car Development. He responded: “Safety is standard on every Mercedes Benz and we are very proud to receive this prestigious award. The company has a proud history at the forefront of automotive safety.
“From the first crumple zones and survival cells in the 1950s we have moved on to sophisticated active safety systems that communicate with each other to prevent accidents occurring in the first place. This not only saves the lives of the owners of our cars, but other road users benefit too.”
Perhaps the car that has premiered more safety systems than any other in the world, the S-Class Saloon, also received an award - this time in the Luxury car category. The popular S 320 CDI took the crown from last year’s winner, the S 500. It is the seventh time S-Class has taken the honours since 1999.
Steve Fowler explained why the S-Class won: “The S-Class is still head and shoulders above its rivals. It’s another easy win this year. Running costs are an essential consideration and the S 320 CDI’s diesel engine is not only smooth and powerful, it’s also extremely fuel-efficient, averaging 34mpg. The Mercedes boasts the best residuals in itS-Class, too.
“It’s built to the most exacting standards using the finest materials. There’s acres of room in which to stretch out, while scrupulous attention to detail, lashings of high-grade leather, polished wood and aluminium switches endow the cabin with unsurpassed quality.”
Dermot Kelly, Managing Director Mercedes Car Group received the award and commented: “The latest S-Class was launched last March, and became a firm favourite among our customers, helping it become the best-selling luxury saloon in 2006. As well as the refinements our customers expect from their S-Class, the new model introduced infra-red NightView Assist, making night time driving easier.
“The latest variants can have PRE-SAFE Brake, which is the first globally-available system that automatically brakes in the event of an impending impact. To win a safety award on the same night as this luxury car accolade reinforces our commitment to industry-leading safety systems across the entire Mercedes Benz range.”
The safety award-winning Mercedes Benz range starts from £13,770 on the road. The S-Class range is available from £48,455.Published 20 January 2007