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Mercedes M-Class SUV helps family car buyers upgrade their safety

Mercedes M-Class SUV helps family car buyers upgrade their safety
Tristan Honeywill

The Mercedes M-Class offers families a premium SUV with a solid basic safety package and a lot of options to help upgrade the protection levels further. With a 2012 five-star safety rating and Euro NCAP Awards for its Pre-Safe technologies, it’s hard to find a large SUV or 4×4 to match it for safety. So, what do buyers thinking of making it their family car need to know?

The main thing for new parents is that if they want to put a baby on the front seat, they’ll need to invest in a Mercedes own-brand car seat. The reason is that the only way to deactivate the front airbag is via the transponder that Mercedes puts in its own-make child seats. Also, rear airbags are not standard on the car, but at £355 are an affordable optional extra.

It’s worth knowing that Mercedes has two systems that it calls “Pre-Safe”. The standard “Pre-Safe” system monitors the vehicle’s speed and rotation, and if it detects an imminent collision it takes all the slack out of the seatbelts and closes the windows. In the most common types of accident, it’s going to help reduce the severity of any injuries.

Pre safe diagram

The other Pre-Safe is “Pre-Safe Brake”, an optional system that goes one step further. It uses radar technology to scan the road ahead and so can detect trouble earlier and provide warnings to the driver up to two and a half seconds before impact. Hit the brakes then and the car automatically applies the full braking force needed to bring the car to a safe stop. If the driver doesn’t react, it brakes automatically but less fully and tightens the seatbelts in preparation for a crash.

Is Pre-Safe Brake worth having? Absolutely: everybody gets distracted sometimes. And Euro NCAP calculates that if the technology were fitted on all cars, it would help prevent around 6500 fatal accidents a year in Europe alone. To get it, ask the dealer for the Driving Assistance Package, which costs £2350 and also include a blind spot monitor and lane keeping assist system.

If you have the money and enjoy driving with cool, useful technologies then there are additional options to consider. An Intelligent light system is pretty reasonable at £1630 and gives you lights that follow the road as it curves. The Night View Assist Plus costs £1305 and uses an infrared camera to scan the road ahead for hazards, however you need to upgrade the media system in the car so that it can display the enhanced image and any warnings.

If “Pre-Safe” detects an imminent collision it takes all the slack out of the seatbelts and closes the windows

Buying guide
  • Mercedes-Benz M-Class offers five-star safety and the basic PRE-SAFE system as standard from £43,870 upwards
  • To get the Pre-Safe Brake system, request the Driving Assistance Package for £2350. It also includes blind spot assist, lane keeping assist, and Distronic Plus brakes
  • Rear airbags are a £355 extra and worth getting
  • Night View Assist Plus is £1305, but you’ll need the driving assist package and a £2130 upgrade to the media system in the car
  • If you have a baby, you’ll need a Mercedes’ own-brand car seat or you won’t be able to put them safely on the front seat
  • Also consider the more affordable Hundai Santa Fe or the more luxurious Range Rover

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