The semi-autonomous modes, while not useful for city roads, work well on highways with lane markings
Fitted with front and rear radars along with proximity sensors and cameras all around, it has semi-autonomous driver assist features
NEW DELHI: Few cars exude luxury the way the Mercedes-Benz SD350d does. The car which claims to be the world's best is also one of the most advanced, in terms of the technology that you can get in the consumer market in India.
Fitted with front and rear radars along with proximity sensors and cameras all around, the S-Class has semi-autonomous driver assist features.
It can drive itself to some extent, apply the brakes when required and has a 360-degree, always-accessible camera system that you can use to check your surroundings at any time. The semi-autonomous modes are not useful for crowded Indian city roads, but work really well on highways with proper lane markings.
They are, as of now, more tuned as advanced safety features, than autonomy of driving. For instance, it maintains the lane and the speed you set, while also avoiding sudden obstacles—such as, an unexpectedly decelerating car, or a stray dog.
In such cases, the S-Class can swerve to the next lane to avoid obstacles (after having scanned it for fellow vehicles), or slam on the brakes to bring it to a standstill, depending on the kind of traffic that you’re in.
In autonomous mode, the statutory safety clauses apply—the car keeps telling you to put your hands back on the wheel, ensuring that your attention is still on the road.
As long as you keep one hand on the wheel, it continues to be semi-autonomous for as long as the road allows it.
Furthermore, you can both limit the maximum speed (to stop your kids from overspeeding) and set the cruising speed, allowing you to keep your foot off the accelerator.
The blind spot monitoring system keeps an eye out for approaching vehicles that fall in your blind spots, and switches to Adaptive Cruise Control if it sees a car in front of you in your lane, settling at the certified safe distances that you can pre-choose.
If you have followed Mercedes’ history, you would know that the S-Class is the quintessential back seat car, and even by international standards, you’re not actually expected to drive it yourself. So, while autonomous driving will be used by the driver, the passenger(s) on the back seat can enjoy the impressive 13 speaker 590W Burmester audio system on this S350d (the Maybach variants get an even better Burmester setup).
The speakers deliver crisp audio, although Volvo’s Bowers & Wilkins setup in the V90 Cross Country is noticeably better. The rear infotainment system comes with a remote of its own, headphones to isolate yourself with your entertainment, and can play movies through USB, DVD or stream from the Internet. The S350d supports both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, making it ready for both Android and iOS users. It also has Mercedes’ own COMAND system, which has navigation systems, media controls, etc.
As expected in this segment, you can connect the system with Wi-Fi hotspots, using which the navigation system can show real-time traffic, although the interface design is generally a bit slow, and not as intuitive in terms of services such as Google Maps.