COPENHAGEN, Denmark - The radical double lane-change maneuver that is the so-called 'moose test' is important in Scandinavia, where highway crashes involving large animals are common.
Auto clubs and magazines in northern Europe have used the test for years to gauge a vehicle's stability under extreme conditions.
The Federation of Danish Motorists, for example, has used a moose test since 1966 when evaluating new cars. The lane-change exercise is also part of a federation driving school lesson.
The Mercedes-Benz A class is not the first car to have problems with the test. About 20 years ago a Skoda turned over in a similar Swedish test, and imports were temporarily halted.
Earlier this year, the new Toyota Corolla also fared badly when tested by the Danish auto club, which then advised against buying the car until the problem is fixed. Toyota estimates that it has lost 500 Corolla sales in Denmark as a result, but as the company does not acknowledge a problem, there is no fix.
The moose test as used by the Swedish car magazine Teknikens Varld is run over a course 50 meters long and 3 meters wide, or 165 feet by 9.9 feet.
The test starts at 60 kilometers per hour, or about 37 mph, and is raised in steps to the car's limit. 'Very good cars pass at 50 mph,' said a spokesman. The A class rolled at 37 mph.
However, the moose avoidance test is not a single standard. Various versions exist, all more difficult than the official ISO 3888 lane-change test used by Mercedes-Benz and the German ADAC auto club.
ISO 3888 was last revised in 1975. It is precisely specified, down to the size of cones used to mark the four-meter lanes. It is 412 feet long. The driver has 99 feet to react, and 82 feet to get back into the right lane.
The Danes dropped the ISO two years ago because 'cars were getting too good for it,' a spokesman said. Their new test is over a course only 330 feet long, and gives the driver only 82.5 feet to react.
Manufacturers would prefer not to have to deal with several separate tests, but the independent testing is unlikely to disappear.
'I am sure the car manufacturers will incorporate the moose test in their test programs,' said Wilfried Klanner, head of Test & Technic, the ADAC magazine.
'But in my opinion, the manufacturers should not decide on a common test standard.
The cars must be tested under many different conditions.'