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SAFETY | 9 out of 10
...Outward visibility is refreshingly panoramic, at least from the front chairs.
In a quick test of the [blind-spot] system, it worked unobtrusively but is easily overridden or turned off should you be in the mood to pit-maneuver yourself into someone else’s car. We think it’s great. BSI, that is, not the suicidal pit maneuver.
Intelligent Brake Assist (IBS)...uses the radar cruise control system to detect an obstacle in front of the car and then gently moves the accelerator pedal up against your foot. Again, it sounds frightful, but in the real world it works well, essentially nudging your foot from the gas to the brake.
We’re counting on great crash-test scores for the 2011 M.
The previous generation was rated “Good” by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), and not rated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). No tests have been performed yet on the latest version.
Dual front, side and curtain airbags are standard, along with anti-lock brakes; active headrests; and traction and stability control. A rearview camera and parking sensors are standard.
As for safety options, dynamic cruise control will be offered, along with adaptive headlamps. There’s also an advanced, optional blind-spot and lane-departure warning system designed to alert the driver if another vehicle is detected in an adjacent lane during an intended lane change, and then help assist the driver in returning the vehicle toward the center of the original lane of travel.
I’ve never been a fan of these systems, but they do work as advertised – the steering subtly nudges you back on line, alerts for side-approaches. It’s just a bit too much intervention for my tastes--and maybe a little too flashy for a car of the 2011 M’s subtle good taste.
It's a little gadget-happy when it comes to safety, but the expensive options are icing.