2012 Mercedes-Benz SLK Sets New Safety Standards
The 2012 SLK-Class will feature a unique combination of driver assistance systems to help avoid accidents
by John Clark | 18 November 2010
Early next year, Mercedes-Benz will launch the all-new 2012 SLK-Class. The agile sports car will feature a bold, new design, exceptionally high levels of comfort, as well as plenty of open-air driving pleasure. At the same time, it will also set new safety standards for convertible sports cars. The third generation of this trend setting roadster will make use of a whole host of the latest assistance systems to support the driver, including the drowsiness detection system ATTENTION ASSIST, developed by Mercedes-Benz and fitted as standard equipment; available occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®, which is unique in the world; and the PRE-SAFE® Brake, which can apply the brakes autonomously in the event of an impending front-end collision. With the 2012 SLK-Class, Mercedes-Benz continues to set new standards of automotive safety.
The best or nothing – the safety experts at Mercedes-Benz have long adopted this motto, coined by Gottlieb Daimler, as their guiding principle. Far from chasing ratings targets, they work intensively on attaining a level of safety which far exceeds the standards stipulated by the world’s legislators. The most important component of their work is not in the laboratory or crash test facility, but real-world accident research. The result of this study is Real Life Safety, a concept which is based on research into thousands of accidents. Using this evidence, Mercedes-Benz engineers have created or refined most of today’s assistance systems which effectively support drivers and have been adopted by many of the company’s competitors.
ATTENTION ASSIST and ADAPTIVE BRAKE as standard
The 2012 SLK-Class will feature a unique combination of driver assistance systems to help avoid accidents. These include the drowsiness detection system ATTENTION ASSIST, which helps monitor the level of attentiveness of the driver and can provide an early warning of overtiredness.
Also making up part of the standard equipment is the ADAPTIVE BRAKE. It comprises ABS, the acceleration skid control system ASR and also active yaw control. In addition, it features the following functions:
- supports the driver when moving-off on an incline, by preventing the vehicle from unintentionally rolling backward;keeps the vehicle stationary without having to keep the brakes applied
- continuously – for example when waiting at traffic lights;
- if the driver abruptly releases the accelerator, ADAPTIVE BRAKE brings the brake pads into light contact with the brake discs as a precautionary measure, so that the necessary braking pressure can be attained quicker in the possible event of emergency braking;
- automatically applies light brake contact in wet conditions to help dry the brake discs.
Emergency braking – detecting an acute risk of a front-end collision
Available as optional extras are the DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control as well as PRE-SAFE® Brake, already proven in other Mercedes-Benz models. Both systems work together and can initiate emergency braking automatically if there’s an acute risk of an accident. In normal driving conditions, the radar-based DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control adjusts the distance to the vehicle in front automatically. If necessary, it can apply the brakes, even bringing the SLK Roadster to a stop, and accelerate it again. This takes some of the strain off the driver, particularly in bumper-to-bumper driving conditions. If the distance starts to narrow too quickly, the system gives the driver visual and audible warnings, thereby prompting the driver to take action, at which point he is also supported by the Brake Assist System PLUS (BAS PLUS).
If the systems detect an acute risk of a front-end collision and the driver does not react, the electronic system activates the PRE-SAFE® Brake after visual and audible warnings. In the initial stage, partial autonomous braking is initiated. If the driver does not react to this, the second stage of PRE-SAFE® Brake provides full, autonomous emergency braking.
Safety and comfort
The following optional features will be available to enhance both safety and comfort:
- the optional Bi-Xenon lighting system provides lighting functions (Cornering light function and Active Curve Illumination), which are activated depending on the driving conditions.
- the optional PARKTRONIC incl. Parking Guidance uses ultrasonic sensors to measure the length of parking spaces as the car drives past; the cockpit display then provides a schematic representation of the recommended parking maneuvers.
Only available from Mercedes-Benz – the anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®
An additional safety highlight which will be available in the new SLK (as part of the optional DISTRONIC PLUS system) is the anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®. If the system detects an impending risk of an accident, it reflexively activates precautionary protective measures for the vehicle occupants, so that the seat belts and airbags can provide maximum protection during an impact. Mercedes-Benz developed PRE-SAFE® on the basis of research into actual accidents, and is the only manufacturer in the world to offer such a system.
In the 2012 SLK, additional post-crash measures will also supplement the PRESAFE® system to enable prompt assistance after an accident has occurred. Depending on the damage, the interior lighting can be switched on automatically, the side windows can be opened by two inches, to provide better ventilation in the interior, and in vehicles with memory seats the steering wheel can be moved upwards.
Taking into account all of the requirements of the rating institutes
In developing the new SLK, the requirements of Euro NCAP as well as all of the global consumer ratings have been taken into account. This has contributed to the development of the bodyshell structure of the vehicle, which follows established concepts and has been optimized in a number of detailed areas. These include, among other things, reinforced members, a new side impact structure and new fiber-reinforced roll-over bar.
In the event of an accident, front-mounted sensors and lateral satellite and rollover sensors help the central control unit to predict the nature and severity of the accident.
New headbag and crash-responsive head restraints
The restraint systems with two-stage driver and front passenger airbags have also been enhanced. A new feature is the headbag, which provides generous lateral protection for the head during an impact. An additional thorax airbag in the seat backrest protects the upper body in the event of a side impact. The seat belts, with belt buckle tensioners and speed sensitive belt force limiters are also hallmarks of the high Mercedes-Benz safety standards.