The Mercedes S Class has long been the first place that new technology finds its way in to mainstream cars. Mercedes were the first to fit things like airbags and traction control to a road car, and they have no intention of passing the innovation mantle on to anyone else after 50 years of S Classes.
So Mercedes has unveiled the Mercedes ESF 2009 Concept, which is a test-bed to showcase the latest technology Mercedes sees as on its way to mainstream. Mercedes has based the ESF Concept on the latest addition to the Mercedes S-Class Range – the S400 Hybrid – and has packed it to the rafters with airbags. There’s one that pops up between front seat passengers; airbags actually in the seatbelts and one great big airbag under the car that inflates if a crash is imminent.
Seat bolsters on the ESF Concept actually move passengers away from the doors in the case of a crash, and there are even ‘expanding metal beams’ that inflate when needed to offer side protection. On a slightly more prosaic note the ESF Concept also features reflective tyres (I do hope our mad Government don’t look at this, or they’ll be making it compulsory for us to wear a reflective jacket when driving, along with not smoking, not speaking, not eating, not breathing…!).
Very admirable stuff, and at this rate we’ll end up safer than an F1 driver hammering in to a wall at 200mph and walking away.
But I dread to think how much it’s going to cost to repair a car after even a minor shunt when 300 airbags go off as you nudge the car behind in the Waitrose car park.