2018 Mercedes-Benz S-class Sedan Prototype Drive Review

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-class Sedan Prototype Drive Review
- 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-class included a new-to-Mercedes suite of semi-autonomous hardware and capabilities, strange because, for decades, every new technology to spring from Benz’s imagination from stability control to adaptive cruise control to night vision, has first made its debut on the flagship S-class

- the 2018 S-class sedan is adopting the E-class’s Drive Pilot driver-assistance features

- E-class’s semi-autonomous driver-assist technologies, include a 360-degree array of radar and ultrasonic sensors for keeping track of lane markings, other cars, and road signs, adaptive cruise control, a lane-keeping setup that can handle some steering duties and autonomous lane changes

- E-class with Generation 4.5 equipment and software

- revised S-class is more or less the same as the sensor package on the E-class

- a smarter lane-change feature and smoother, newly map-based adaptive cruise control

- upgraded Active Lane Change Assist and Active Distance Assist Distronic

- initiating an automatic lane change now requires a single tap of the turn signal stalk, as one might use for a three-blink-to-pass signal, change lanes within 10 seconds of a driver’s request and now shows that a lane change is being attempted via graphics in the digital gauge cluster display

- E-class, Active Lane Change Assist can be turned off, it is available whenever Active Steering Assist, a rear-facing radar module for tracking faster moving traffic in adjacent lanes

- Active Distance Assist Distronic, ability to use map data to slow the S-class from the driver-set cruise-control speed for corners and roundabouts, instead of only reacting to objects or other cars ahead

- goal is greater comfort and a more natural-feeling experience with adaptive cruise control

- on curvy country roads, the computers will slow the S-class to a speed deemed appropriate, a low enough speed not to alarm passengers

- despite Active Steering Assist function is enabled, won’t handle the sort of tight-radius curves that Active Distance Assist is reacting to

- tuned Active Distance Assist Distronic to change its behavior depending on the selected drive mode

- in 2018 S600 Maybach prototype, the speed adjustments were preternaturally smooth, even in the spicier Sport setting, and it really felt as if a human driver were manning the pedals

- there’s a downside, it’s that the car has no way of responding to, say, other cars in a roundabout until it’s behind them

- the system can’t read traffic signals or respond to stop signs and the like, so driver involvement remains necessary as freeways give way to more ad-hoc traffic scenarios on back roads or suburban lanes

- controls for Distronic have been moved to the steering wheel

- Mercedes seems comfortable eking out incremental enhancements to its semi-autonomous features

- the S-class’s Drive Pilot features do more than those in the E-class

- Mercedes will release more information in April at the New York auto show