To mark ten years of the Panamera, a few of Porsche’s four-door false starts
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Has the tech on the Mercedes-Benz S-Class finally caught up with that on the new E-Class? Yes. The facelift of the Mercedes S-Class has seen technology that first saw light of day in the E-Class filtered, er, up to Merc’s über-everything flagship. What’s it got, then? The S-Class has a bunch of new engines. There are three to start with: a six-cylinder diesel, a six-cylinder petrol and the S63 AMG’s V8 bi-turbo petrol, with a hybrid arriving later in the year. There’s an array of semi-autonomous driving technology, lots of it already debuted on the smaller E-Class. So there’s Active Speed Limit Assist, Active Lane Change Assist and Remote Parking Assist.
And there’s a bunch of improved safety systems not yet seen on the E-Class, chiefly Active Distance Assist Distronic, which slows you down for roundabouts and corners. That sounds amazing. It is. in the E-Class, the Distronic system maintains a gap to the car ahead – which varies by speed and setting, all the way down to a stop – and keeps the car in its lane. It’ll also adjust the speed you’ve set to whatever the speed limit is, because it recognises road signs. However, the S-Class not only does all of this, but it can also now predictively slow the car for upcoming obstacles, like roundabouts, junctions, slip roads, toll booths and actual corners. Do I even need to drive at all? Yes. While the system will slow the car from its set speed as you approach a roundabout, junction, slip road etc, it can’t see if there’s a car coming around the roundabout. So you still have to hit the brakes as you would normally – it won’t stop for you. Once you’ve braked and the other car has gone, the S-Class will pick up its speed again. Happy days. What else has it got? It’s got Active Braking, which essentially means you’re less likely to crash. If the S-Class senses that you’re approaching an obstacle and are not slowing, it will stop for you. Even if you have your foot pressed to the floor on the accelerator. We don’t advise it – we tried it and it was a touch terrifying. You get self parking, too. Which actually works. And, best of all, park by phone. As car-park spaces get smaller and smaller, what a joy that you don’t have to be in the car when you park it. No more car-park dings… just move it in and out of spaces via your mobile phone. Genius. There’s Car-to-X Communication, so you get warning of hazards on the road ahead. You just have to hope another S-Class is gridlocked and gives you the traffic info. You also get Multibeam LED with Ultra Range highbeam headlights – the brightest legal lights in the world. Seriously. Anything else? Yep, I’ve saved the most exciting innovation until last. The standout piece of technology on the S-Class has to be the “energising comfort control”. For the first time in a production car, the climate control, seats (heating, cooling, massaging), lighting and music work together to create six wellness programmes. Mercedes’ wording, not mine…