Mercedes-Benz A-Class sets high standard for safety
- Tristan Honeywill
- On December 4, 2012
Before its launch, Mercedes claimed the new A-Class would provide the highest standard of safety ever seen in this vehicle class. This is a car that is serious about safety: it gets five stars in Euro NCAP rating, read full report, and offers a lot of accident prevention technologies as either standard or options, but does the A-Class deliver on the company’s promise?
In the adult occupant test, the A-Class scored 93%. If the car tested had not been the base model, it would have been fitted with Pre-Safe technology, and perhaps the result would have been even better. This primes the seatbelts and airbag and positions the front passenger’s seat for the best possible outcome. The car’s whiplash protection was also rated as good, but it’s worth noting that all cars are fitted with “Collision Prevention Assist”, which helps avoid or mitigate the end-to-end crashes where whiplash injuries might occur.
This is a radar-based system that helps in two ways. At speeds between 19mph and 155mph it warns the driver if it detects that a collision is probable. If Pre-Safe is fitted, this then starts to prepare the occupants for a crash. If the driver heeds the warning and brakes, then the system helps out as well, giving the maximum possible brake force needed to stop safely. Here’s a neat little advert that shows the technology in action on the B-Class.
The A-Class features other technologies that Euro NCAP cannot currently recognise in its ratings. If you buy Mercedes car-seats, for example, they come fitted with a transponder that automatically deactivates the front airbag if you put the child seat there. It’s simple idea that make it worth getting the car seat from the dealer.
All models also come with Attention Assist, a system that uses a sensor in the steering system and a clever algorithm that can tell if you’re getting sleepy from the way you steer and correct the car.
Prices start at £18,945, but you need to buy a £20,125 SE model before Mercedes will allow you to fit additional safety options. That includes rear side airbags, a £390 option that many parents will want. These are in addition to the rear window airbags. A Lane-Tracking Package (£770) with a lane keeping assistant and a blind spot assistant is also available on SE models, if you fit a navigation or infotainment system (£390-£2100). You need to upgrade to an A-Class Sport to have cruise control with the company’s Speedtronic variable speed limiter.
The level of standard safety in the A-Class makes it one of the safest small family cars available. By looking at the Euro NCAP ratings and the options available, it is still hard to say if the car is decisively safer than its competitors in the class. What matters most is that thanks to the A-Class people who want a compact family car now have a much better selection with the opportunity to fit some amazing technologies that one day all cars will have to fit as standard.
- The A180 is the base model, starting at £18,945. To fit the useful additional protection systems, you need an SE model or higher, which start at £20,125
- Fit the Pre-Safe system for £340
- Extra rear side airbags cost £390
- The Lane-Tracking Package costs £770, but you also need to fit a sat-nav or infotainment system for £390-£2100
- Consider the seven-speed dual-clutch transmission (around £1250). With it on board, you can also fit Distronic Plus (£880). This is radar-assisted cruise control that automatically keeps you a safe distance from the car in front. It makes motorway driving safer and more relaxing. It will also work at low-speeds in stop and go traffic. Very cool
- Also consider: Volvo V40, Audi A3, Ford Focus
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