Letter: Baby Benz tests

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The Independent Online
Sir: As editor-in-chief of the Swedish magazine that was the first to turn a Mercedes A-class upside down, I read Gavin Green's article "The first faltering steps of the Baby Benz" (15 November) with great interest.

There is, however, some misinformation in the article. My five reporters were not driving on an icy surface when the A-class turned over. The event took place on Bromma Airfield, just outside Stockholm, on a clear and sunny day on absolutely dry asphalt.

The A-class Mercedes did not carry five people and 800lb of luggage. The car was loaded to Mercedes' own figures for the maximum loading capacity. There were five people in the car plus 75kg of lead-filled bags, the latter being stored in the luggage compartment at the back of the car. Thus, our car had a much lower centre of gravity than most A-class drivers would have, as we put so much weight at the bottom of the boot.

Our test is a simulation of how a car behaves when you try to steer away from a child (or animal) that runs out in front of a car. We always start the test at a very low speed in order to get acquainted with the car's behaviour. Then we increase speed. We drive all cars with a) the driver only and b) the car loaded to its limits according to the manufacturer's specifications.

During several decades of testing hundreds of cars, no other car has ever behaved as badly as the new Mercedes. Problems had already started during "warm-up", at approximately 50 km/h. The car turned over completely at approximately 60 km/h.



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