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.
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.