I have been driving the 2010 E-Class every day since it was released last week and I am growing to appreciate it more and more. I am especially enamored with the new Drivers Assistance Package. I have always been a big fan of the technology and gadgets in our cars but Distronic always seemed a little too expensive and not entirely useful if you don’t spend all of your time on the highway. The upgrade to Distronic Plus and the addition of other features to this package has changed my mind!
The (997) Driver Assistance Package is priced at $2900 and consists of
– Distronic Plus with PRE-SAFE Brake
– Blind Spot Assist
– Lane Keeping Assist
Let’s take them one at a time…
Distronic Plus with PRE-SAFE Brake – Distronic is the radar adaptive cruise control system that we have had for years. It uses radar sensors mounted behind the front grille to sense the car in front of you and maintain a set following distance. So, if you set your cruise at 70 mph and a car in front of you slows to 60 mph, you also slow to 60 mph until that car speeds up or you switch to an open lane and you’ll resume 70 mph. The Plus part of Distronic Plus is that it works down to a complete stop. This is amazing and takes a little time to fully trust. For example, I drive home on a fast highway with 4 stoplights. I set the cruise at 70 and followed the car in front of me at a distance of about 100 yards. As the car in front of me slows and comes to a stop for the first traffic light the 2010 E350 also slows to a complete stop. The system’s following distance is proportional to your speed so you it will bring you to a stop at a normal distance from the car that you are following. If the system keeps you stopped for more than a couple seconds you just have to just tap the gas to resume your previously set maximum speed and following distance. For anyone who spends any time on the highways around Atlanta this feature will completely change your driving experience. Since this system will allow you to use the ‘cruise control’ in many more situations I would also expect to see an increase in fuel mileage versus a E-Class not using this system.
PRE-SAFE Brake uses the same radar systems to constantly monitor the area in front of your E-Class. Using its long, medium, and short range radar systems it can detect objects as far as 200 yards in front of your vehicle. Pre-Safe braking is deployed in three stages. When the car detects that you are 2.6 seconds from an impact you will receive an audible and visual alert. At 1.6 seconds to impact there are 3 audible alerts and the system will automatically apply 40% of maximum power and activate the other reversible PRE-SAFE protection features like adjusting seat position, tensioning seat belts, and closing the windows. If the driver doesn’t press the brake pedal or swerve to avoid the collision at 0.6 seconds to impact PRE-SAFE Braking will apply the maximum braking force to greatly reduce the severity of a collision.
Another manufacturer is advertising a system like this but it only works at speeds below about 20 mph. Our system works on moving objects when you’re traveling from 19mph to 124mph and on stationary objects when you’re traveling below 44mph. Just like seatbelts, airbags, and ABS brakes this technology that is now exclusive to Mercedes-Benz will someday be standard on every vehicle, as it will certainly save lives.
300cm = 9.8ft & 50cm = 20in
Blind Spot Assist – This system uses radar sensors in the rear bumper to monitor your blind spot on both sides of the car. When you start the vehicle a little orange triangle in the side-view mirrors illuminates to let you know the system is active. While you are driving the mirror is clear unless there is a car in your blind spot. Then you will see a red triangle. If you attempt to change lanes with a red triangle illuminated, the red triangle begins to flash and the car beeps twice to alert you. This has been incredibly useful for me these last few days as the car I have been driving has all of the MSRP stickers blocking my view. I can see this feature being incredible helpful to everyone, but especially for those of shorter stature or with limited movement in their necks.
Lane Keep Assist – Using a windshield mounted camera, Lane Keeps Assist alerts you when you are drifting out of your lane. It takes into account your speed and turning angle to only alert you when you are unintentionally changing lanes. It uses three short vibrations in the steering wheel that feel a lot like rumble strips and are only noticeable to the driver. The system can also distinguish between solid and broken white lines and vary its alert timing. This system operates above 37mph so you won’t have to worry about it annoying you in parking lots. The system will also not activate if it believes that you are intentionally crossing based on your turn signal, brake, and accelerator usage.
All in all I think the (997) Driver Assistance Package is amazing technology that really does represent the future of the automobile. It makes perfect sense for the car to take an active role in keeping you and your family safe. For most of us these are not options that we think we HAVE to have, but I think once you have them you will never want a car without them again. If you’re in the Atlanta area I would be happy to give you a demonstration!