The Mercedes-Benz S550, new flagship sedan, when loaded with the Premium 1 Package and the Driver Assistance Package, is being described as “omnipotent” if there is such a thing in automobiles.
Find out if the driver is even needed in this electronic wonder machine!
This is not hyperbole, but an indubitable fact. Buy the new flagship sedan for an as-yet undisclosed price (we can’t imagine it returning many Sacagawea coins from a $100,000 bearer bond), tick the order boxes for the $4,500 Premium 1 Package and the $2,800 Driver Assistance Package, twist the key in the starter and slide the memory stick-sized column shifter into D, and sit back and relax. The car’s suite of stereoscopic cameras, radar sensors and ultrasonic gewgaws create what Mercedes — in a Snowden-level defection from Earth-bound physics — calls “6-D Vision.” This double-down dimensionality apparently endows the vehicle’s robot brain with an omnipotence once ascribed solely to God.
Bow deep, luxury shopper. The automotive world has a new deity.
There are about 16,000 actions, previously left to the hands and feet and eyes of the driver, which the S550 can now perform with complete autonomy. These include starting, stopping, steering, braking, remaining in a lane, avoiding a head-on collision, avoiding a cross-traffic collision, fending off a rear-end collision, spotting street signs, reading street signs, spotting wildlife, parallel parking, right-angle parking, maintaining a safe following speed, spotting pedestrians, avoiding killing pedestrians and flashing the high beams at pedestrians spotted on the side of the roadway at night.
If one gets uppity, and decides to disable all of these systems — which can be easily accomplished, and, as far as we can tell, invites no significant retaliation from the onboard HAL 9000 — the S550 rewards with precisely the kind of driving experience one expects from an S-Class.