Mercedes-Benz have always lead the world in terms of safety technology in their cars.
The DISTRONIC system was first introduced in the S-Class in the late 90's as a method of adapting the cruise control speed to maintain a set distance to the car in front. Now available on most Mercedes-Benz models, DISTRONIC uses a radar array behind the grille badge to accurately measure the gap, and the car's ECU controls throttle and braking accordingly.
As a driver, you can adjust the distance from controls on the steering wheel. If another car pulls in front of you while the system is active, your Mercedes will slow and drop back to again create a safe distance to the car in front. The system works at speeds up to 200km/hYou can override the system by accelerating or braking at any time.
It is worth noting that many other manufacturers offer similar radar and laser assisted cruise control systems.
The new DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist fitted to our recent test car, a 2014 E400 Estate, takes this technology a step further by attempting to keep the car in the center of its lane using cameras and sensors that 'read' the line markings on the road. You can feel the steering weight change as the car tries to return to the center position if you drift to the outside of a lane. Even without any driver input, the car will make subtle steering adjustments to maintain speed, the gap to the car in front and the position in the lane.
It's not quite full autonomy, the system wont exactly steer you along a winding mountain road while you snack on a sandwich, but for a country like ours where long distance drives are a regular occurrence, DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist provides an extra level of awareness to ensure you get to where you are going, safely.