In 1997 the motor car industry was taken by surprise. A test procedure, actually only applied by Swedish testers, was suddenly the talk of the town. In the beginning Mercedes Benz did not wanted to admit it, however, deficiencies became evident which allowed a vehicle of the "A" class to tip over in certain driving situations. All of a sudden, a great deal of possibly self-proclaimed testers tried to induce this result with other vehicles as well. Some were astonishingly resistant. Mercedes however, drew thorough conclusions, and suspended, not only the "A" class, but also postponed the sales start of the Smart which showed similar symptoms.
In the meantime, the elk test has been somewhat standardised. At a speed of 65 km/h the lane must be abruptly changed. This simulates the avoiding swerve-manoeuvre to evade an elk, one does not want to collide with 300 - 400 kg of animal! Apart from that, the question of how strongly one brakes also plays a roll. Without ESP the brake cannot be fully depressed because then the vehicle would no longer be steerable.
Thus, ESP is important. Only vehicles vehicles without activated ESP - the last was the Dacia Logan (2006) - run the risk of failing the elk test. With these vehicles precaution is difficult. This can best of all, be seen in the Smart (figure 2). It is relatively narrow and high. It's wheels have been placed as wide apart as possible. In the beginning the suspension and vibration damping were also rock hard, in the meantime, they are however, somewhat milder. Particularly for a motor car like the Smart, one can imagine that, under unfavorable conditions, with multiple, abrupt lane changes, it could quite easily tip over onto it's side. One is - with other vehicles as well - not completely protected from tipping over. A sensible, and reasonable driving manner is still the best protection. ESP protects primarily by relatively early braking intervention. 05/10