Congratulations to all our readers who were born in the 1920’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, 60’s, 70’s and 80’s!
Firstly, many of us survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and often lived in houses made of asbestos. They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, processed meat and tuna from a can. Our cots were usually covered with bright colored lead-based paints. We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets or shoes, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking!
We drank water from the garden hose and not from a plastic bottle. As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags. Riding on the back of a bakkie on a warm day was always a special treat…
OK, another annoying e-mail about the good ol’ days. But what made me think about the way life has changed was the R500 4Matic parked in my driveway.
Sure, it’s a very different vehicle even by today’s benchmarks…not quite a SUV, or a station wagon, or a mini-van, or a 4×4. Oh, of course, it’s a trendsetting Grand Sports Tourer.
No – it was the safety specs that got me wondering how we survived without ESP, Trailer Stability Assist, Brake Assist System (BAS), Electronic Traction System (4-ETS) for all-wheel drive including automatic brake control for downhill gradients, Hill start assist, Anti-lock Brakes (ABS) Acceleration Skid Control (ASR), PRE-SAFE system, NECK-PRO active head restraints, dual front airbags and front/rear side airbags, full side curtain window bags, belt tensioners and force limited for front and outer rear seats.
And then there are some additional safety options…
Which is all rather comforting when, according to an insurance report I glossed over recently, you are more than twice as likely to die in a car accident in South Africa than be murdered. Cheerful stuff indeed!
And while the R500 oozes safety amidst its extremely sleek lines (my wife calls it Sexy Mumsy), the question is: who is going to buy it?
The answer is pretty simple…anyone with a healthy bank account who needs to transport six kids in style and possibly take on a Porsche Boxter on the way to collect them from school. And, in fact, they don’t have to be kids or midgets…the R500 boasts plenty of space for seven occupants in three rows of seats and has more cupholders than any other Merc. Born for the USA!
And if you flip down the two back seats you are left with a couple of thousand litres of loading space and a tailgate that closes with the push of a button. And the handy gearshift on the steering column makes you wonder why all automatics aren’t designed this way.
Go for the DVD Entertainment System which gives you dual screens behind the front headrests and insist on a reversing camera (I’m surprised it’s not standard issue) and you’ll still get some change from R800 000.
And in no time the taxi drivers will be calling you the Sandton Pick Six.