FEATURE STORIES

A Crash Course in Safety, Performance and Luxury

A Crash Course in Safety, Performance and Luxury image

Text: Brent Co / Photos: Brent Co | posted October 27, 2011 14:20

The Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience Philippines

Over a three day weekend stretch, CATS Motors punctuated the double milestone of Mercedes-Benz, the 125th year celebration of the automaker as well as the 60th year of the brand in the Philippines, with the Mercedes-Benz Driving Experience.

The main thrust for the event was the safety and capabilities of the entire Mercedes-Benz Philippines line-up, ranging from the C-Class to the Php12.8-Million CLS63 AMG.

Let's take them for a spin, shall we?

Automobile Safety Today

The level of safety in today's automobiles have largely contributed to the reduction of road accidents. Active and passive safety features of cars can only minimize the effects an accident or hope to prevent one. However, the car can only be as safe as the nut behind the wheel.

By The Numbers

Driving Errors cause accidents that claim lives and damage property everyday, six major errors have been attributed as the major causes of road accidents they have been identified as: Inappropriate speed (19%), Failure to observe right of way (14%), Maintaining insufficient distance (12%), Errors when turning off (8%), Incorrect use of road (7%) and Influence of alcohol (5%).

We have learned to drive and go about everyday on the road, yet we haven't realized that we were never really taught how to stop a car. The average motorist will not know the stopping distance of a car running at 100km/h. A normal car will go from 100km/h to 0 at a distance of 42-meters or 2.8-seconds on a dry road. On a wet driving surface, it will take about twice the time of about 5.6-seconds and even more on a slippery surface to anywhere as much as 14-seconds or 200-meters.

Mercedes-Benz Safety Innovations

Since the development of the first self-propelled gas-powered vehicles in 1886, Mercedes-Benz has been part of automobile innovation. The automaker's contribution to automotive safety has been quite significant and has been part of saving human lives and making roads safer.

In 1951, the company developed the first "Safety Cage" construction with front and rear crumple zones. It is possibly the most important safety innovation in automobile history, this is now standard in nearly all cars and trucks produced worldwide.

In 1978, Mercedes-Benz first used anti-lock brakes (ABS) in its cars sold in Europe and later made standard for other markets as well. The acronym "ABS" coined originally in 1972 started out to be Antiblockiersystem (Anti-Blocking System) instead of the Anti-lock Braking System term that we use today.

Then in 1986, Traction control was offered by Mercedes-Benz to reduce rear wheel slippage in icy and slippery road conditions, followed by Stability Control in the form of the Electronic Stability Program (ESP) in 1996. All the systems combined to use the electronic controls for the engine, traction control system, and ABS system, augmented by sensors for fore-and-aft and lateral acceleration and deceleration. The car determines if it is entering an out-of-control state, thereby decreasing engine power and directing braking force on specific brakes to regain control.

A year later in 1997, Mercedes introduced Brake Assist (BA), a system that works with the ABS uses sensors in the brake system to determine if the driver intends to stop quickly, and, if that is the situation and the brake pedal is not being pressed hard enough for maximum effect, boosts braking force. This system is now used by many manufacturers.

Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy

Mercedes-Benz has developed some of the most innovative safety solutions for vehicles as well as the safest cars. In continuing its commitment to motoring safety, it has developed programs to help make safer drivers. The academy features courses for novice to expert drivers who not only want to be better drivers but would also like to take full advantage of their cars.

CATS Motors shares the same commitment and flew in instructors from the Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy Australia headed by Chief Instructor Peter Hackett, who also drives the SLS GT3 in the Australian GT Championship.

The Experience

The localized experience held at the tarmac and runway of the abandoned Subic International Airport featured a specially designed program by Hackett and his fellow Aussie instructors Josh Hunt, James Brock, Stephen White, and Paul Stephenson. The tracks were set up with cones as markers to guide participants through the different situations one could ever nor imagine going through in everyday driving.

The first part of the exercises dealt with Emergency Braking, Emergency Maneuver and Cornering. The first two introductory exercises demonstrated how the active safety features of the can help the driver safely avoid accidents, while the latter demonstrated the handling capabilities of the car for more pleasurable driving.

The second part featured a combination of the skills learned in the morning session in a more unleashed environment from high speed braking, high speed evasive maneuvers, to high speed cornering exercises and a slalom. This was all punctuated by a taxi ride down the runway strip aboard the CLS63 AMG (which we were unfortunately not allowed to try) driven by Hackett himself. Hackett blasted down the runway with the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8 powered car in speeds in excess of 250km/h with full confidence as he even took his hands off the wheel at speed.

The best driver's education experience in day - walking away a better driver and knowing what your car is capable of.