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No car turned over this time

Every Car of the Year contestant passed the elk-test

09/10/2013 10:42 |  Comments: 

Contributing editor

Sipi is a fairy who hangs above us like a huge, ever-smiling, men’s fragrance-smelling umbrella. He can be called anytime, anywhere to lend a helping hand, and he’ll be there in an hour with one of his Transits for sure. A dangerously maniac car collector (the street in front of his house is full of his vehicles), a radio-control and model car freak, Sipos is a Swiss knife made of human flesh. Totalcar is just one job amongst his zillion occupations, but he endears it the most. Lives with a girlfriend and two dogs.

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  • Mitsubishi Sigma 3.0 24V (1992)
  • Mazda 323 TXL 4WD (1990)
  • 4 long-nose Transits (a 4x4 fire engine, a fire department staff car, an ex-Irish ambulance and an extremely oversized panel van, 1980-1984)
  • Dacia 1300 (1975, being restored)
  • Ford Capri 2.9i (1982)
  • Mercedes-Benz 280 SEL 4.5 (1972)
  • Ford Sierra Tournier 2.9i drift-car (1992)
  • Mazda 121 4dr (1993)
  • Suzuki VS1400 Intruder (1989)
  • Suzuki GSX 750 New Katana (1984)
  • Kawasaki Z1000 Police (1993)
  • Aprilia Habana (2000)
  • Volga M24 wagon (1984)
  • Ural M62 (1968, in pieces)
The best in test was the Porsche Cayman, no surprise. But what about the new Suzuki SX4, Mazda 3, Peugeot 308, Skoda Octavia?

We don’t know which car the jury will pick as Car of The Year 2014, but as all contestants have passed the test, we can safely say it will be one that is able to avoid an elk without turning over. Or a child. Or a car turning out in front of it, whatever.

Now, the elk is a funny-looking creature, even cute in a weird way, but dangerous as hell. Not dangerous the way a grizzly bear is; it won’t bite off anyone’s arm, and won’t swallow a baby in one. It can, however, easily tear off the head of the unsuspecting driver. It carries its heavy body on four long legs and the male even grows an antler on its head, which could easily hold a hammock between its two tips. If a half-a-ton creature like this wanders in front of your car, you’d better drive round it at any cost. If you hit it, the bonnet will sweep it off its feet, the body and perhaps the antler of the poor thing will come in through the windscreen, and all this may cost the lives of those sitting in the car. Just have a look at the picture of the ambulance car that hit an elk a couple of days ago. You wouldn’t want that to happen to you.

In Scandinavia there are signs by the roads warning about elk danger in places where the chance of elks showing up is above average. The Swedes have been testing cars for manoeuvres to avoid a collision since the ‘70s, always emphasizing that should an elk wander in front of your car, it won’t stop, it’s adamant to continue going, so you shouldn’t try to outsmart an inattentive creature arriving from the right by driving round it from the left, and vice versa.

The most infamous elk test was carried out on the very first series of the Mercedes A-Class in 1997 by the Swedish magazine Teknikens V ä rld . It wasn’t yet called an elk test back then, but when Robert Collins, the driver of the overturned A-Class was asked about the use of the tested manoeuvre, he happened to say that this was the way to avoid the collision with a suddenly appearing elk for example. This is why it was named elk test. It could just as well have been named little boy running after his ball test, or absent-minded pedestrian fumbling with mobile test, or mating cats test even, but it was not to be.

The reason why this test became infamous was that the German car hyped as being super safe turned over as if some giant had casually flipped it. A Trabant, however, passed it. The public uproar following the incident almost led the A-Class to fail on the market, but luckily the ESP was included in every trim level of the small Benz afterwards.

The failure of the Mercedes was particularly embarrassing as the Swedish Teknikens V ä rld was not the first to test its manoeuvring skills. One of the more experienced journalists in Tannisby told us that the manoeuvre had been a part of the Tannistest for a long time, and the A-Class did poorly when it was tested. Mercedes had been informed about the problem, but the warning fell on deaf ears. You know the rest. The fiasco cost Mercedes-Benz many hundred million Deutsch Marks. The case has helped the test results get much bigger attention by both the buyers and the media, so the manufacturers are keen for their cars to do well.

There was no scandal this year. All participants passed the test – some driving at a low speed, some at a bit higher speed, but none of the cars looked inclined to turn over. We have collected all data about which car, equipped with which tire, and at what maximum speed was able to drive round the obstacle staying on the designated track. There were as many people sitting in the respective cars as they are said to take, plus some baggage had been placed in their boot to add extra weight.

 Car brand, type  Tyre brand, type, size  Max. speed
Porsche Cayman Pirelli P Zero Front: 235/35 R20 Rear: 265/35 R20 78 km/h
Tesla Goodyear Eagle RSA 245/45 R19 76 km/h
BMW i3 Bridgestone Eco Front: 155/70 R19 Rear: 175/60 R19 73 km/h
BMW 4-series Bridgestone Potenza 225/50 R17 73 km/h
Seat Leon Pirelli P7 225/45 R17 72 km/h
Skoda Octavia Dunlop Sport Max 225/45 R17 72 km/h
Maserati Ghibli Dunlop Sport Max 275/40 R19 72 km/h
Jaguar F-type Pirelli P Zero Front: 255/35 R20 Rear: 295/30 R20 72 km/h
Mercedes S 500 Lang Michelin Pilot Sport 3 275/40 R19 71 km/h
Peugeot 308 Michelin Energy 205/55 R16 70 km/h
Mazda3 Dunlop SP Sport Max 215/45 R18 70 km/h
Lexus IS 300h Bridgestone Turanza 225/40 R18 70 km/h
Range Rover Sport Pirelli Scorpion Verde all season 275/45 R21 70 km/h
Renault Zoe Michelin X Green 185/65 R15 69 km/h
Toyota Corolla Michelin Energy 205/55 R16 69 km/h
Opel Cascada Bridgestone Potenza 245/45 R19 68 km/h
Kia Carens Hankook Ventus Prime 225/45 R17 67 km/h
Ford Kuga Continental Premium Contact2 235/50 R15 67 km/h
Toyota Auris Dunlop SP Sport 225/45 R17 66 km/h
Peugeot 2008 Goodyear Efficient Grip 195/60 R16 66 km/h
Hyundai i10 Conti Eco Contact 185/55 R15 66 km/h
Citroën C4 Picasso Michelin Primacy 205/55 R17 65 km/h
Subaru Forester Bridgestone Dueler HL400 225/55 R18 65 km/h
Suzuki SX4 S Cross Continental Conti Eco Contact 205/60 R16 64 km/h
Mitsubishi Space Star Bridgestone Potenza 175/55 R15 64 km/h
Toyota RAV4 Michelin Latitude 225/65 R17 64 km/h
Renault Captur Michelin Primacy 205/55 R17 63 km/h
Nissan Note Dunlop 195/55 R15 61 km/h

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