Car lane support systems tested by readers

Lane support systems get a lot of bad press, but they could help save your life. We invited five readers to try some of the latest to see if they inspire confidence or merely annoy...

Thatcham RTT lane support systems

Three more readers give their verdicts on the latest lane-support systems

John Butler 

Age 75 Job Retired Drives 2020 Tesla Model 3 Long Range, 2004 Porsche Boxster 

“I liked the Hyundai Ioniq 5 lane-keeping system best. It was assertive but not too intrusive, keeping the car in its lane and not letting it veer off the edge of the road. It felt like the most dependable system, giving me confidence that it would help if I started to get into a sticky situation. 

“That said, the Mercedes C-Class was also very good at preventing the car from driving into the verge. In contrast, the system in the Toyota RAV4 was the least proactive. It almost felt like it wasn’t going to help out at all, especially when I drove close to the edge of the road. 

Thatcham RTT lane support systems

“Taking part in this test has changed my perception of automated lane-keeping assistance systems. I didn’t take much notice of the system in my Tesla previously, but I will from now on. After all, everyone makes mistakes occasionally when driving, and without the assistance of these aids, one loss of concentration or slip could cost you your life. 

“I believe there’s still a lot of development needed to make all lane-support systems user-friendly enough to be accepted by the public, though.

"At present, most drivers don’t understand what the systems do, and those selling cars don’t properly explain the technology to buyers, so I suspect that many drivers simply aren’t using them. In many cases they’ll try one system and find it intrusive, and then incorrectly think all systems are the same. 

“However, having tried the systems in several makes and models, I now appreciate that they can respond in very different ways, and some are nicer to live with than others.” 

Favourite system Hyundai Ioniq 5 

Andy Cooper 

Age 58 Job Company director Drives 2019 Tesla Model 3 Long Range 

“I’m really interested in automated car systems. In fact, I’m a bit of an early adopter when it comes to new car technology; that’s why I bought the Model 3, and added the Full Self Driving system to my car, even though I can’t yet use it on UK roads. So, I was intrigued to see how the lane-keeping systems on other cars compared with mine.

“In order of best to worst, I rated them as follows: Mercedes, Polestar, Hyundai, Volkswagen and Toyota. It was a close-run thing between the RAV4 and Golf, though. The former wasn’t active enough and the latter was so overt that it would become aggravating. Overall, I preferred the way the Mercedes system felt when it activated. It was noticeable but not so insistent that it was annoying. 

Thatcham RTT lane support systems

“I was also interested to discover that the active safety technologies in the electric cars on test appeared to be so well integrated. The Polestar in particular did a good job of behaving differently when the car crossed broken and solid white lines. 

“That said, I would be happy to live with any of the models in my top three. As well as being equipped with systems that help rather than hinder the driver, all three can be had with head-up displays, which I find far less distracting than looking down at a dash display or sideways at a central screen. 

“One thing the test has brought home to me is the fact that it’s vital that car makers and their dealers ensure these features are properly demonstrated during test drives, otherwise many car owners won’t get the full benefit of them.” 

Favourite system Mercedes C-Class 

Malcolm Edwards 

Age 57 Job Business development manager Drives 2017 Skoda Octavia vRS, 1990 Porsche 944 Cabriolet 

“I was surprised by the variation in the lane-support systems fitted to the five cars we drove on the track. The way they’re implemented feels as different as the engines and gearboxes in each car. 

“I was particularly surprised how much more heavy-handed the Golf’s system is in operation to that of my Skoda Octavia. It was too intrusive when it did cut in and spoiled what was otherwise a great car. 

Thatcham RTT lane support systems

“I was impressed by the systems in the Mercedes, and Polestar. Both of them were gentler in their approach than the systems in my car and the Golf, yet they were more effective at keeping the car in a safe position on the road than the RAV4’s. I didn’t feel as though that car’s system would react strongly enough to prevent an accident. 

“I was most impressed by the Polestar’s system, in particular how it differentiated between the three stages of operation: warning if the car starts to drift out of its lane, actively keeping it in the lane and stopping it drifting off the edge of the road. 

“I think all cars should have lane-keeping assistance as standard, but while it’s still an option on some models, I’m happy to pay extra for it because it makes me feel more secure on long drives.” 

Favourite system Polestar 2 

What Car? says…

We share Thatcham’s concern that lane-support systems aren’t always designed with the driving experience in mind. 

While the camera-based system in the Volkswagen Golf GTI certainly works and earns the car points in Euro NCAP tests, the fact that it aggravates drivers to the extent that they might want to switch it off suggests that a rethink is needed. 

Fortunately, there are signs that manufacturers are catching on – new systems from Hyundai, Mercedes and Polestar all received compliments from our reader test team. 

Opinion was unanimous, though, that lane-support systems must operate unobtrusively in the background if they are to find universal favour among drivers. They should offer a helping hand to ease the strain of driving, rather than brusquely forcing drivers to alter their behaviour. 

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