Mercedes-Benz ESF 2009 concept – Click above for image gallery

An inordinate number of the safety features that we now find commonplace in roadgoing automobiles made their debut in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. So where better to look for the next generation of safety technology? You guessed it.

To that end, Mercedes is slated to unveil a concept S-Class to showcase the safety features it is working on next. The ESF 2009 Concept is based on the S400 Hybrid – as if to show that "green" and "safe" can co-exist – and it comes packed with a bunch of new airbags. There's a new curtain airbag in between the seats (you know, so you don't butt heads), airbags in the seatbelts themselves, and perhaps the most innovative feature, a giant airbag underneath the vehicle that inflates in the case of an imminent crash, adding friction to help the car decelerate and lifting the front of the car a bit to compensate for brake dive. That last part worries us a little, as it strikes us that it could hinder any attempt to steer away from the crash, but for the time being we'll trust that Mercedes knows what it's doing. There are also seat bolsters that can move the occupants a couple of inches away from the doors in case of a side impact, metal beams that can actually inflate – thereby cutting weight and saving space on impact beams – and reflective tires.

With the airbag count rising rapidly, a potential crash is looking more expensive by the day, but Mercedes seems to revel in the "how can you put a price on safety?" approach. Stay tuned for more information, and check out the images in the gallery below in the meantime.

[Sources: Autocar and eMercedes-Benz]

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