Honda Accord saloon 2.4i ADAS
30 August 2006
|: £17,242-£27,277 |
As vehicles become more and more complex with rafts of new technology aimed at increasing comfort and safety, Honda has taken the next step towards a car that can drive itself.
Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keep Assist System both feature in a £2000 option package Honda calls Advanced Driver Assist System, which is only available on the top-spec 2.4 EX with the six-speed auto transmission. Both bits of technology are designed to make motorway life easier, with ACC automatically adjusting the car's speed via a grille-mounted radar to keep it a safe distance from the car in front, and LKAS actually helping to steer. A camera mounted on the windscreen detects road markings, and adjusts the car's position to keep it in lane.
But the facelifted Accord is not quite the self-drive car - take your hands off the steering wheel and the LKAS throws a strop. If the system stops receiving tiny inputs of a driver with at least one hand resting on the steering wheel, it flashes a warning and sounds an alarm, before eventually switching itself off, to ensure the driver still has ultimate responsibility in this health and safety-dominated age.
The £2000 price tag seems expensive. Once you're over the novelty of a car that will, for short distances, steer itself, it seems more of a hassle to wait for the system to detect the edge of the lane and bring you back, rather than steering yourself, while the ACC leaves too big a gap in traffic, even on the closest setting.
But we tried the system on a round trip from the south coast to Yorkshire and back in a day, and on the way back, when early fatigue starts to set in, the benefits became more apparent.
Racking up plenty of motorway miles, it starts to make sense, and even the most alert driver will have had small moments of inattentiveness that LKAS can eliminate, while the very fact the system is there, as a back-up, helps relax the driver.
For anyone spending a lot of time on motorways, the ADAS combination helps reduce stress levels. As long as it's viewed as an aid rather than a replacement to driver input, it's a useful, if expensive, addition with benefits that become clearer with miles.