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Inexpensive assistance systems: is inexpensive also good?

Achim Hartmann
Inexpensive assistance systems
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N Emergency braking assistants and lane departure warning systems are now called City Safety or Lane Assist they Grandma Else or Aunt Ulla and warned both acoustically (with new words like 'Huhdaslebtag' and 'Wernerpassauf') and gesture-controlled of lane deviations or traffic jams behind hilltops. The technical driver assistance became really well known in 2004 when Citroën installed AFIL in the C5. If the infrared sensors detected a deviation from the lane, the upholstery of the driver's seat vibrated as a warning, which was just as detrimental to the system's popularity as the high price.

In the meantime, assistance systems have become established in the small car class. The manufacturers have found different ways to lower prices.

Renault warns instead of intervening

390 euros costs the lane departure warning system in the Renault Twingo. The camera behind the interior mirror reliably detects the side lane boundary and the center line even in rain and darkness, and warns reliably if the Twingo threatens to run over it without flashing beforehand. However, the warning, the short beep and a flashing of the lane departure warning symbol in the speedometer remain.

There is no steering intervention. What cannot be explained by the high costs for the technology - a control unit could access the electrical power assistance of the steering. But tuning is really expensive, i.e. optimizing the steering intervention in such a way that after a correction the car moves neatly in line and not in a zigzag because of permanent corrections v-A_-headline__article - beta '> Nissan relies on functional bundling

The assistance package called Safety Shield from Nissan also saves steering intervention. The safety shield is available for Note, Qashqai, X-Trail and the tested Pulsar - here for 1,600 euros in a package with a navigation system in the medium Acenta version, standard for the top Tekna version. The most important element is the camera at the rear. With it, the system detects cars in the blind spot, recognizes whether the car is about to leave the lane and, when pulling out of parking spaces, pedestrians behind the car. In addition, she projects her imagesas a reversing camera on the monitor in the cockpit. Because the camera is so important for the overall system, it has an automatic cleaning and drying function.

In practice, the bundling of functions has some disadvantages. Other manufacturers have long given up the idea of ​​monitoring the blind spot with a camera - because of the device's limited range and because it cannot detect any speeds. The warning of approaching cars is only given when they are only one car's length away, especially when there are large differences in speed. And although the lane keeping worked well even in bad weather, it can happen that the front of the pulsar crosses a line before the camera at the rear notices it.

Opel with weaknesses in the blind spot assistant

The front camera on the Corsa also takes on several tasks. It sits on the inside mirror and supplies the data for distance and collision warning systems, lane departure warning systems and traffic sign recognition. Whereby it works much better with signs and distances than with keeping in lane. In this way, the system reliably detects the broad side lines, but often does not notice when the median has been crossed without flashing beforehand.

The blind spot assistant also shows weaknesses. It is part of the parking assistant for 580 euros and uses the ultrasonic parking sensors in the rear bumper to detect cars - from 10 to 140 km /h. This works well in the city, as the warning symbols in the rearview mirror light up in good time. The system is overwhelmed with higher speed differences on the autobahn, because the range of the ultrasonic sensors is only four meters - radar-based blind spot detectors range from 50 to 80 meters. The parking sensors cannot warn of approaching cars in good time, the message in the exterior mirror often only comes when the other car is already at the height of the B-pillar.

VW convinces up to 160 km /h

With the adaptive cruise control of the Golf VW does not save on functions, but on range. The 77 gigahertz radar is 120 meters - enough for speeds of up to 160 km /h and the compact class. For higher speeds, the radar would have to cover over 200 meters.

The limitation of the control speed to 160 km /h remains the only one of the system. It reliably maintains the distance to the vehicle in front, regulates jerk-free, brakes gently and accelerates again with determination. In addition, VW has integrated a city emergency braking system into the ACC, which, in combination with the dual clutch transmission, can handle traffic jams, as well as the collision warning system that uses the brake to warn of an impending accident and, if necessary, initiates emergency braking. And that makes it much more effective than Grandma Else or Aunt Ulla, who used to pound around hectically in the passenger footwell.

Renault Twingo with lane departure warning for 390 euros

With the camera in the lanes of the motorway

Anyone who orders the safety package with cruise control, speed limiter and the lane departure warning system from the Twingo should not also order the sound package with subwoofer and more powerful speakers. Otherwise, there is a risk that the soft beep, with which the system warns of leaving the lane, will be drowned out by throbbing bass and clanging highs. The visual warning in the instrument display is also very discreet.

The lane keeper should report a bit more vehemently, but reliably detects the lanes, warns in good time and is not irritated by bad weather or faded markings. However, the warning remains, the driver has to correct it himself, the system does not intervene in the steering.

Advantages: Reliable lane detection even in bad weather and faded markings, easy operation, low price .

Disadvantages: No steering intervention, only a small warning symbol in the instrument display when leaving lane, the warning tone is too subtle.

Opel Corsa with lane keeping and change assistant for 580/700 euros

With parking sensors against the blind spot

For the new Corsa Opel offers two assistance systems. The blind spot warning comes from the smaller Adam and is also part of the automatic parking assistant in the larger Corsa. The system uses the ultrasonic parking sensors in the rear bumper and warns of cars in the blind spot with a flashing symbol in the exterior mirror.

This works reliably, but because the sensors only have a range of four meters, cars approaching from behind are detected recognized late. It's still enough for city speed, but the system is overwhelmed when there are higher speed differences on the motorway.

The second system is Opel Eye, a front camera that reliably indicates traffic signs and the distance to the vehicle in front and warns of collisions , but often not noticed when leaving lane.

Advantages: Blind spot warning system sufficient for city speeds, reliable traffic sign and distance display.

Disadvantages: Insufficient sensor range of the blind spot detector for highway speed. Opel Eye often does not recognize when someone leaves the lane.

Nissan Pulsar with 360-degree safety sign for 1,600 euros (package)

Fully in the picture from all sides

Let's first clarify the price of the system in the pulsar. Because the top model Tekna comes with the safety shield as standard, the amount only applies to the middle line Acenta and also includes GPS andDigital radio. In addition to lane departure warning, lane change and exit warning, the system takes care of comfort issues - the rear camera projects its image on the touchscreen when pulling out of a parking space, while the images from three other cameras provide a top view for maneuvering.

The rear camera supplies the data for the blind spot warner, which reliably reports that cars are approaching late due to the limited range of the camera. The rear view camera also uses the lane departure warning system (without steering intervention). Works well, but with advantages: Easily configurable system, reliable lane keeping function, very practical reversing and in exceptional cases it can happen that the pulsar leaves the lane with the front before the camera at the rear notices it.

Advantages: In exceptional cases it can happen that the pulsar leaves the lane with the front before the camera at the rear notices it.

Disadvantages: On Motorway with high speed differences, late warning of approaching cars, person detection not reliable when leaving a parking space.

VW Golf with adaptive cruise control with emergency braking system for 565 euros

Always keep your distance

It doesn't stay at 565 euros because ACC is only available with a multifunction steering wheel (355 euros) and display plus (52 euros) as well as fatigue warning (25 euros). But 997 euros are also comparatively cheap for such a system.

The price is explained by the limitation of the maximum control speed to 160 km /h. For a higher speed, the radar would need a range of more than 120 meters. In combination with the dual clutch transmission, ACC can even follow traffic jams, bringing the Golf to a complete standstill and then starting again. With the hand control, the cruise control works from 30 km /h - and it works perfectly. The system brakes proactively, keeps the distance constant and does not accelerate too hesitantly back to the starting pace after braking. The way it should be.

Advantages: Finely tuned distance cruise control, brakes gently, accelerates not too hesitantly, reliable collision warning system with good emergency braking function.

Disadvantages: Somewhat complicated operation of the cruise control via steering wheel buttons, only controls at speeds of 30 to 160 km /h (switch).

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