Moose test with the Mercedes A-Class and what Saab says about it

It's October 1997. The Swedish magazine Teknikens Värld is looking for the car of the year. She is testing various new releases, everything is going the same as in previous years. Until the Swedes chase the new Mercedes A-Class over the course.

Surprisingly, it tips over, editors injure themselves and end up in the hospital. The unexpected end of a business trip that has consequences.

In a first reaction, Mercedes tries to sit out the problem. Trust that the situation will calm down fairly quickly. But something completely different happens, that's unexpected.

Moose test Mercedes A class and what Saab says about it

The involuntary elk test of the A class is becoming a sure-fire success. Editorial offices of trade journals across Europe are reenacting the scenario. Protected with a helmet, unlike the editors of Teknikens Värld. And everywhere they overturn the Mercedes A-Class.

The motor press tilts the Mercedes A class

In Germany, the magazine Autobild is testing together with the editors of Pro 7. Same result here too. The A-Class is a small car, with a high center of gravity and a poorly tuned chassis. It simply obeys the laws of physics. It tips over in slalom, but that's only part of the problem.

The other is the much too soft basic structure of the roof construction. Survival space shrinks dramatically when the A-Class lands on the roof. Unusual for a Mercedes that should be trusted more.

This is where Saab comes in, the editors from Germany visit the plant in Trollhättan. The new 9-5 is rolling off the assembly line there, and there is a completely different way of thinking about safety in Sweden. A Saab engineer drives with the journalists on the in-house test track. At a speed of 140 km/h he grabs the steering wheel and demonstrates how good-natured and predictable a car has to react at the limit.

Saab accident researchers explain the well thought-out roof construction and the elk test that has been practiced at Saab for many years. 600 kilos of moose mass against a car roof - a Saab has to be able to handle that. More than the law requires is the maxim on Göta Älv. Accident safety that is based on what is happening on the road and not just on legal texts.

A-class moose test and the new Saab 9-5

Pro 7 shows the contribution of the tipping A-Class and Saab's real-life safety design in "The Reporter" magazine. Saab Germany is so enthusiastic about it that copies of video cassettes are sent to editorial offices and dealers for media work.

The new Saab 9-5 gets a little more tailwind and can demonstrate how particularly safe a Swedish car is designed.

For the Swabians, the moose test with the then new A-Class is bitter. He's a media thunderbolt. One reacts harshly against journalists, imposes house bans. But after a short time, the Stuttgart group does the right thing. The new A-Class has an ESP system as standard.

The system originally developed by Bosch had been introduced two years earlier with the new S-Class. Due to the moose test disaster, the initially elitist anti-skid technology is democratized in no time at all, even for the lower vehicle classes. ESP is becoming standard on every Mercedes, making the roads safer.

For the Swabians, the decision is expensive. An additional DM 1.000,00 is said to have accrued per vehicle.

But the image of building safe vehicles benefits from this decision. In Stuttgart you manage the feat of turning defeat into victory. In the medium term, Mercedes leaves the field as a moral winner.

Saab still needs some time to introduce the new technology. The first 9-5 generation only has a TCS on board - a precursor system whose functions are later merged into the ESP. Maybe you don't see any need for action either, because the system tuned by Saab suspension guru Leif Larsson is considered remarkably safe and balanced.

The 9-5 is the first Saab with a split rear axle, and it's a big hit. Only in 2001, with the big facelift, does the ESP also move into the 9-5. It has been a legal requirement for all newly registered passenger cars in the EU since 2011. What started in 1997 with a test at Teknikens Värld has now made driving in every class of vehicle safer.

11 thoughts on "Moose test with the Mercedes A-Class and what Saab says about it"

  • If you want to see differences in the chassis of cars from the 60s and 70s to vehicles of the 90s or newer, I always recommend to watch tourist trips on the Nürburgring on Youtube.

    In general, older vehicles land on the side or roof much more often than newer ones:

    Of course, this is not a statistical analysis, but if there were still as many rollovers as before, they would certainly be shown.
    It is frightening how often inmates were thrown out of the car because they were not wearing their seat belts. On the other hand, they seem to get up relatively often quite easily and are not seriously injured, I guess the bad cases are simply not shown.
    In any case, the development focus for chassis has definitely changed in the past decades.

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    Honest cars vs. (PS)

    I also have a nice short story. Attended a rural family reunion with my old Volvo 164E a few years ago.
    The children and wife of another family member who wrinkled his nose made me take a spin on the classic car.
    Then they reported with glassy eyes that the box was absolutely insane. That we drove back over a dirt road at over 100 km / h.

    Dry floating sand, ruts, stones, potholes. The husband and father of my passengers took me to the chest carefully. The path is impossible to master at this speed. Not even with his SUV would he drive faster than 50 or at most 60. My behavior was completely irresponsible ...

    But is it perhaps also because his SUV is not an honest car?

    Too hard-sprung, wide tires that hit every stone, float immediately, impossible to keep on track and less ground clearance than an old Swede from a time when unpaved roads were more the rule than exception in large parts of Scandinavia.

    Of course, I didn't take any risks with my precious freight. At no time did she feel uncomfortable, had a lot of fun and we had an enormous cloud of dust behind us. No trees to the right or left of the path.

    What can I do if a Wolfsburg SUV is hopelessly inferior to a 50-year-old but honest Sweden in the discipline of unpaved roads?

    In return, today's SUV scores on the BAB, where, ironically, the old sedan starts swimming far before its own possible top speed. The times have changed. And the requirements.

    That has quite ironic components. I would love to drive the dirt road again with an R4 or 2CV. Maybe they are faster there than today's “off-road vehicles”?

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    and nice that you add your story. The comment was a pleasure.

    The modern SUV are certainly divided in two in the discipline. There are also increasingly no ground clearance and no off-road capability - which, however, does not contradict the thesis of the end of honest cars, but adds another facet.

    Greetings and thanks for your nice story.

  • In the 90s, the 9000 was named the safest car by Swedish and American insurers several times. The basis was evaluated accident data. The South German auto industry made fun of it, in Sweden at best a moose would run into it. Exactly this moose was the undoing of the star in Sweden - arrogance literally comes before the fall!

    With the retrofitting of ESP, the weaknesses of this incorrect construction were not remedied, they were only covered up. That was the end of honest cars! From this fall, all inadequate undercarriages with ESP were braked in time. Or does anyone really believe that all of these SUVs without ESP will stay on the wheels in such a test?

    In October 2013 I took part in an intensive driver safety training course at ADAC with my 9000CS. I was interested in the real limits of this old car. In an exercise at the very beginning, we always had to take two cars in a circular path (alternating wet and dry) to find out what was possible - really to the limit. I was on the track with my 9000 together with a Golf 6, but I couldn't see it in the circle behind the A-pillar. At some point the instruction came over the radio to the Golf that it should step on the gas, the old SAAB would be on its heels. The exercise was then canceled and the ESP deactivated in the Golf, otherwise he could have driven home, the course would be pointless sinn

    Nice that this old story was dug up again here ;-)

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    Yes of course (@ Tom),

    Thank you for the link and training. But to be honest, I don't feel a bit smarter now ...

    The history and ownership of Saab automobiles have been moving since 1989 at the latest and the story begins with red numbers. The cars were solid, the numbers weren't.

    In general, I miss facts and figures in the training video.

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    @ Ebasil,

    always delicious, as shown in this video the relationship GM (desperate) Saab (incorrigible improvers) ...

    One wonders, however, whether Saab wanted to make money at all?

    This attitude certainly didn't hurt the cars. The continuation of the brand, however, does ...

    I sometimes wonder what possible alternatives would have been. Would we appreciate the existing Saab so much today, would they have been developed and produced cost-effectively?

    Would there have been a good and economically viable middle ground from which real Saab would have emerged?

    And what would be a real Saab today under (legally, politically and otherwise) changed framework conditions?

    When it comes to the question of whether a Volvo, a Mercedes, a Citroen or whatever is still real, there are also different opinions.

    Perhaps “real” cars simply had their time and Saab made good use of and exhausted this time?

    • Of course Saab wanted to make money. In the 90s there were solid, black numbers. As a training Video I recommend the launch of the sports suit in 1999 in Barcelona.

  • Here's another strange fact: the fastest car so far in the moose test was a Citroën Xantia Activa, which had adaptive stabilizers in addition to the hydraulics. The vehicle is unbeaten to this day, not even sophisticated sports cars can get to it.

  • Thank you very much for this very interesting video! I particularly liked the yellow 900 for the moose test from above. How impressive, he drives through it as if nothing had happened! The roof is practically intact.

    Here (for all new readers who may not yet know it) the link to the video of crazy Brits, already mentioned by Herbert, who is dropping a BMW and a Saab upside down - one of my all-time favorite videos! 🙂 I had to think about that this morning when I watched the A-Class moose test video

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    The stability ...

    the roofs and pillars of both Swedes is legendary. Just think of “Carlsson on the roof”, the advertising images of volvos piled high up in the skyscraper or the “case study” from TopGear / the BBC (Saab vs. BMW) ...

    For me personally, that's more important than ESP. Strictly speaking, a vehicle with ESP does not pass the moose test if and as soon as the ESP intervenes, because then it is no longer traveling at a constant 60.

    It says little about the quality of a chassis if the ESP masters the situation. And today the assistance systems are very close to autonomous driving.

    Is the moose test now passed if the vehicle brakes hard at the sight of cones?
    For many years, emissions tests were considered passed when vehicles recognized and refused the test ...

    However, the car of today and tomorrow will be decided politically. Sometimes I feel really sorry for the supposedly oh so powerful automobile lobby.

    Nobody is allowed to “simply” build a simply damn good car anymore. That would be too easy ...

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