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Future models - Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes roadster safety push

Protection racket: Mercedes-Benz points out some of the safety systems it claims gives the forthcoming SLK world-leading occupant and pedestrian protection.

Mercedes-Benz claims the next SLK roadster sets new standards for convertible safety

Mercedes-Benz logo22 Nov 2010

By DAVID HASSALL

MERCEDES-BENZ claims it will establish new safety standards for open-top sports cars with its forthcoming new-generation SLK, which will be previewed in January ahead of the Geneva motor show in March.

Coming to Australia in mid-2011, the third-generation SLK’s styling is understood to be inspired by the gullwing-bodied SLS supercoupe, but the German company is yet to reveal what engines will be fitted.

Earlier this month, however, Benz released information about a ground-breaking variable-light glass roof system and now it has revealed some of the safety systems it claims will set the car apart from rivals like the BMW Z4, Porsche Boxster and Audi TT.

 center imageLeft: Mercedes-Benz SLK 'spy shot.'

Driver assistance systems will include the standard fitment of Mercedes’ drowsiness detection system (Attention Assist) and the optional availability of a Volvo-style accident prevention system that can apply the brakes autonomously in the event of an impending front-end collision.

Mercedes-Benz calls its system ‘Pre-Safe’ and claims it is unique. It can initiate full emergency braking automatically on detecting an acute risk of an accident.

It works in conjunction with the radar-based ‘Distronic Plus’ proximity control system, which can control the distance to the vehicle in front automatically in bumper-to-bumper traffic by applying the brakes, even bringing the car to a stop, and accelerate it again.

Another standard feature will be adaptive braking, which, in addition to ABS, stability control and yaw control, includes a hill-hold function (stopping the car from rolling backwards when taking off), keeps the car stationary at traffic lights without having to keep the brakes applied, prepares the brakes when the driver abruptly steps off the accelerator, lightly brushes the brakes in wet conditions to dry the brake discs and flashes the brake lights in emergency braking situations.

In the event of an accident occurring, the occupants will benefit from reinforced structural members, a new side impact structure and a new fibre-reinforced pop-up rollover bar.

In addition to the regular set of airbags, the SLK gets a new ‘headbag’, which provides lateral protection for the head impact area, as well as an additional thorax airbag in the seat backrest that protects the upper body in the event of a side impact.

Another new standard feature will be ‘Neck-Pro’ crash-responsive head restraints, developed by Mercedes to support the front occupants’ heads in the event of a rear impact and reduce the risk of whiplash.

Pedestrian safety has also been enhanced by sensors in the front bumper that register an impact and immediately raises the bonnet by 85mm to create additional space between the bonnet and the components in the engine compartment. This results in comparatively lower impact for the pedestrian’s head, reducing the overall risk of injury.

Other systems announced by Mercedes-Benz for the SLK include a camera that detects speed limit signs and displays them on the speedo, an ‘intelligent light system’ with five modes for different driving conditions, and a post-crash supplement to the Pre-Safe system that can automatically provide interior lighting, lower the side windows by 50mm for better ventilation and (where memory is fitted) raise the steering wheel.

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