Advanced driver aids - reader test team review

Every mainstream manufacturer now offers advanced driver assistance systems, or ADAS, on their new cars. We invited our readers to Thatcham Research’s testing facility to evaluate their usefulnes...

AEB crash


Steven Jones Age 37 Job Financial risk analyst Drives Mini 5dr

“I’ve never before experienced something with such a high level of autonomy as the Tesla. I’m not sure about the driver becoming too reliant on the Autopilot system, because it’s so comforting to let it take control and do all the manoeuvring. 

“By comparison, the Mercedes is a little more subtle. It feels very much like you’re still in control of the car while it provides assistance, whereas the Tesla feels like it’s in control.

“The AEB is really impressive on all the cars. The Volvo’s came in later than I was expecting, although it still stopped the car from 45mph without impacting the vehicle in front. The fact that it doesn’t kick in too early is part of the decision-making process, that you’re ultimately in control.

“I was pleasantly surprised by Ford’s systems, especially for a car in the middle of the market. It doesn’t have as sophisticated AEB as the others, but it’s a lot more certain in terms of lane-keeping assistance; it’s a bit surer in keeping you central. That said, the Tesla’s equivalent is more responsive at higher speeds.

“I already rely on adaptive cruise control in my Mini; I do a lot of motorway miles, so it’s nice to have that and AEB as an extra level of support. I’m excited to see where this all goes in future.”

Favourite system Ford Focus

Tony Gilbert Age 49 Job Photographer Drives BMW 5 Series


“The AEB was very impressive on all of the cars. The only issue I had was that none gave much warning beforehand, although I’m told that you’re given more time to react at higher speeds. It doesn’t seem to kick in when it oughtn’t, either, so you wouldn’t know it’s there until you need it.

“I’m not a fan of lane-keeping assistance, because it makes the steering feel dead. And I really don’t like the car actually resisting what I’m telling it to do. Plus, I’m very sceptical of systems that encourage you to rely upon them but then don’t work properly 100% of the time. 

“If I were regularly driving on the motorway, I’d look for a car with adaptive cruise control and lane-keeping assistance, but on small, local roads, these seem more of a hindrance than a help.

“When we tested the steering assistance through an S-bend, the Tesla and Mercedes chose a line that I wouldn’t want to take, turning in late and going right to the lane’s edge. The others held a much more central position, but even then, each car makes it hard for you to improve separation from vehicles in adjacent lanes.

“It seems that in future, every car will drive like the average human, and even discourage their drivers from doing better.”

Favourite system Volvo V60

Fred Johnson Age 63 Job IT consultant Drives Jaguar XE


“Volvo’s active safety systems have certainly come a long way in the past few years. But more so Ford’s – and the Focus is a much more affordable car. 

“When I swerved around a pothole in the Tesla, its lane-keeping assistance switched off and had to be manually restarted, whereas it resumed afterwards in all of the other cars. 

“As for the steering assistance, I’d never turn it on; I love driving, so I don’t want the car taking over. However, my son, who’s in his 20s, would be very interested in that kind of thing.

“AEB is great – when it works. It could be a life-saver; if a car in front braked as hard as the Volvo here can, I doubt I could match that. However, I previously had a 2015 Volkswagen Golf that once unexpectedly slammed on the brakes when I was driving on
the motorway, scaring the living daylights out of me. 

“The scale of the programming for these systems is unbelievable. I’ve worked on software all my life, yet I wouldn’t fully trust a car loaded with ADAS I’d worked on. It also scares me how easy it could be to hack into ADAS. And I can’t believe you can select functions on the Tesla that are in beta mode, because that means the software is still being tested!”

Favourite system Ford Focus

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