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Mercedes-Benz revisits the scene of horror Chapman's Peak crash with self-driving S-Class

2018-05-30 12:11

In a dramatic film, Mercedes-Benz South Africa (MBSA)  takes viewers on a journey along Chapman’s Peak Drive with Christopher White, survivor of a crash 30 years ago that saw him lose control of his Mercedes-Benz in Cape Town.

White, during a moment’s inattention driving along Chapman's Peak, plummeted the equivalent of 30-stories onto the jagged rocks below – a crash that he miraculously survived.

For 2018 though, MBSA returns to the scene of the crash albeit with White albeit in an autonomous S-Class. The clip will be shared later on May 30.

Horror crash in Cape Town

A commercial made by Mercedes-Benz in 1990 told White’s story and first proclaimed that Mercedes-Benz cars are engineered like no others. It was one of the decade’s most iconic ads, and most petrolheads will surely remember it.

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Watch the insane crash that occurred 30 years ago in Cape Town:


What do you think of the original ad above? Email us

Pioneering autonomous drive

MBSA said: "The 2018 kicker is that the S-Class is the latest rendition on the road to autonomous driving and White places all his trust in the brand that saved his life 30 years ago, by taking his hands off the wheel to let the car drive him safely along the road that so nearly took his life.

"Telling White that the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is known as the most intelligent car in the world didn’t allay his fears. The drive had to be felt, to be believed."

                                                                        Image: Mercedes-Benz

Viewers to feel White's terror

At the start of the film, viewers will be able to experience White’s terror and his "unwillingness to trust the technology," says MBSA.

The mood is surreal and as White, who moved away from Cape Town and has never been back to Chapman’s Peak, gets behind the wheel to drive the treacherous bends and corners in the 2018 hands-free iteration, the tension is palpable.

                                                                          Image: Mercedes-Benz

The automaker said: "Throughout, the emotion is overwhelming. The closing frames can only be described as euphoric. Mercedes-Benz cars are still engineered like no others."

MBSA partnered with Net#work BBDO to create the piece.

Executive Creative Director Brad Reilly says that the decision to launch the five-minute documentary instead of a more traditional 30-second ad-spot is a brave one in today’s world of selective viewers and channel-hoppers.

                                                                      Image: Mercedes-Benz

Reilly says: "It’s five minutes of drama and emotion that are manipulated and dramatised by the short-sharp editing style. It’s five minutes of a terrifying roller-coaster ride that almost goes on too long to be comfortable. It’s five minutes of history best-forgotten melding into an unimaginable future that Mercedes-Benz has actualised."

S-Class - automotive benchmark

Selvin Govender, Marketing Director of Mercedes-Benz Cars South Africa, says that the S-Class is the automotive benchmark in efficiency and comfort.

Govender concludes: "Moving forward from 1990, from a time when autonomous vehicles couldn’t have been imagined, to today, when the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is a reality, we needed to do the unimaginable.

"For White, Chapman’s Peak was a place of horror. We asked him to revisit it, to drive it again, but this time to let our car drive him. His fear, his trepidation, his emotions, are evident to start with. It’s heart-wrenching. But then you see him relax. You see the wonder on his face. You see the future of driving."

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