2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class first drive review: relaxation chamber Page 2

Of course, the S-Class’s cabin bristles with technology, too. The dashboard has a pair of 12.3-inch TFT screens, now with higher definition, that combine to show a wealth of information. The left screen projects digital gauges that can be configured in Classic, Sport, and Progressive themes, while the right screen handles the usual infotainment functions. The various functions are controlled through Mercedes' familiar COMAND dial on the center console, as well as touch control steering wheel buttons that respond to swipe motions like a smartphone. Both take some time to master.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Enlarge Photo

Autonomy and safety

The technology extends beyond the cabin, and that’s where Intelligent Drive comes into play. This suite of autonomous driving and safety features is constantly at work in the background and you can opt to use more of them. This year it gets improved cameras and radar sensors to see further down the road, and it uses more map and GPS information.

To use the semi-autonomous mode, simply activate the cruise control and watch for the green steering wheel icon in the instrument cluster. The system will steer for you, provided the lane lines are clear enough and the turns aren’t too sharp, and it will now slow down as it approaches curves, toll booths, and junctions. The speed it chooses will depend on the mode: in Comfort or Eco, it will go slower in curves, and it will pick up the pace in Sport or Sport+.

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

2018 Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Enlarge Photo

I activated this Level 2 semi-autonomous system while driving through the Black Forest area of Germany during the press preview and found that it generally works well but it still has its limitations. I couldn’t trust it on sharper curves, especially at speed, and good lane lines really matter. Using the GPS data, the car slowed or sped up based on the speed limit, and slowed for twistier bits of road.

However, it slowed down too much for my taste in a mountainous regain and I ended up taking over to drive in a more spirited manner. This system will be great for tedious stop-and-go traffic, but I still want to drive when the road turns twisty.

ALSO SEE: 2018 Audi RS 5 first drive review: green with mean

Let go of the wheel for 15 seconds and the system will tell you to put your hands back on the wheel. Beyond that, it assumes the worst and slows the car to a stop in its lane and activates an SOS signal.

Also included in Intelligent Drive are several active safety features, including an active lane change feature that will check the surroundings and steer the car into the chosen lane when you signal; Evasive Steering Assist that applies additional steering torque when the driver swerves to miss a pedestrian, and helps stabilize the steering afterward to avoid fishtailing; and Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function, which works like most forward collision warning systems but also detects crossing vehicles or pedestrians. All those additional safety features create even more confidence in this epic car.

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