How bad can it be to hit an elk or moose in a fast-moving car? Pretty bad.
So avoiding the elk is an important test of a car in certain countries and has led to one of the most insightful car tests ever invented.
The Swedish magazine Teknikens Värld, or Technology World as we would call it, is perhaps most famous outside its home country for its version of the elk test.
Despite its name, and the idea that it was designed to see how well a car can swerve round an elk that happens to wander into its path, the test doesn’t really have much to do with elks.
It’s more about a car’s ability to avoid something that appears ahead of it and suddenly stops, like a pedestrian or another car reversing into the road. Elks tend not to stop, so there’s a chance that swerving in front of them can just make matters worse.
The test is very simple. The car moves sharply to the left and then back on to its original line on a route marked out by cones. The test result is the highest speed at which it can do this without losing control, knocking down any of the cones or, in extreme cases, falling over.
It’s not as comprehensive as the Euro NCAP crash test programme and the results are not as widely publicised. However, a bad result can lead to terrible publicity for the manufacturer, and possibly to a partial redesign of the car.
Here we’ll look at some of the best- and worst-performing cars in the elk test, including the fastest of all which – if you don’t already know it – you might find it almost impossible to guess.