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Scandal! The inverting Mercedes A-Class

1 month ago

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Gavin Green | Journalist


21 June 2024

Mercedes-Benz boss Jürgen Hubbert called it the greatest crisis during his 13 years running the company. Others have described it as the biggest debacle in the Three Pointed Star’s long and storied history. It damaged the reputation of the world’s best-regarded car maker and, what’s more, it questioned safety – a Benz hallmark.

It blighted the launch of the most radically different Mercedes of all, the small, front-drive A-Class. The little car never recovered from the blow. To make matters worse, its problem – a propensity to roll over – was graphically displayed around the world. Images of a tumbling airborne A-Class were part of 1990s automotive iconography.

There was an upside. It ushered in the widespread use of electronic stability control (ESC) on tall vehicles, saving thousands of rollovers and deaths, especially among SUV drivers. In turn, this made SUVs safer and more widely accepted, changing the make-up of the world’s car market.

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