DISTRONIC PLUS is the Mercedes Benz adaptive cruise control system, this system is not only able to do the regular cruise control functions, but it is also able to keep you at a safe distance from the front, it can also accelerate or decelerate the car depending on the flow of traffic.
These systems are available for all the newer Mercedes models, and a DISTRONIC PLUS system can easily be identifiable judging by the front grille. DISTRONIC PLUS cars have a smooth black surface inside the badge in the center of the grille, or in the grille itself for some models like the S-Class.
DISTRONIC PLUS is usually packaged with Mercedes Steering Assist, a system that is aimed to keep you safe inside your lane, this means that the steering wheel is able of making smooth, minor adjustments not to unsettle the car or the passengers.
Package and functionality
Mercedes DISTRONIC PLUS usually comes included in the Mercedes Benz Driver Assistance Package. This package consists out of DISTRONIC PLUS, Active/Lane Keeping Assist, Active/Blind Stop Assist, Mercedes PRE-SAFE, and COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS.
Mercedes Benz driver Assistance Package costs around $2-3k, but it does include all the modern safety and convenience features. This system also offers a function called Exit Warning Assist which is aimed at alerting the passenger about incoming traffic or pedestrians while opening the door,
Included in the package is also a feature called Evasive Steering Assist which is aimed at avoiding surrounding objects if you suddenly lose control. DISTRONIC PLUS is the main feature of this package, and this system certainly does help with making the everyday commute that much smoother and easier.
No matter the benefits, these systems should never replace your attention and concentration. These systems are there to assist you only, they are not perfect and they can even stop functioning abruptly. For the system to work, you always have to keep two hands on the steering wheel.
Inner workings of DISTRONIC PLUS
The DISTRONIC PLUS system comprises a large array of different cameras and sensors. The system is available for traveling at lower or higher speeds, and the system is mostly tailored for constant-pace highway driving scenarios.
DISTRONIC PLUS is useful in Stop and Go traffic, as you don’t have to do a thing because the car will speed up and slow itself down automatically. You are also able to set a specific distance between yourself and the car in front, and the car will maintain that distance until you decide to change it up.
DISTRONIC PLUS uses multiple different radars that are able to sense if a collision is imminent. In that case, the system primes the passengers, an audible warning is sent, and the PRESAFE system is engaged. This system primes up to 40% of the braking pressure, and if you touch the brakes, 100% of braking pressure is applied at an instant.
Even in the unlikelihood of you failing to respond, and not applying the brakes, the system can do it automatically.
DISTRONIC PLUS (ADAS) system usefulness and necessity
While on paper these systems certainly do seem impressive as they do increase safety standards quite considerably, and they also show that Mercedes and most of the car industry are keen to offer the best possible safety outcome in an unlikely event of a crash happening.
Such company policies are reassuring, yet the fact that these systems which one would consider as ‘’essential’’ are costing $2-3k, which is rather strange. All the ADAS (Advanced driver assistance systems) equipped in modern cars are almost always pricey, but they might be the difference between a fatal accident and a minor bump.
But the Mercedes Drivers Assistance Package which is the Mercedes equivalent of ADAS does help prevent injuries. ADAS systems in general work great in front-back collision scenarios because the sensors can sense an imminent crash and act accordingly even if the driver is unable to do so.
Many experts believe that human error is the main perpetrator in more than 90% of crash situations, so it’s rather obvious that you should opt for ADAS if you have the ability to do so, as it is hard to put a price on human lives, but $2-3k surely is not the price that comes to mind.
Can the Mercedes DISTRONIC PLUS system drive itself?
The Mercedes DISTRONIC PLUS system is not designed nor intended to drive itself, even though one might think that this system is the Mercedes version of Tesla’s autopilot. This system is not advanced as the AutoPilot function, but it’s also not intended as such.
This system is there to help you in specific situations and provide an extra pair of eyes that might prove useful in an accident. Mercedes has cleverly packaged these systems together, as some systems offered in the package are not as popular as others.
What’s the difference between DISTRONIC and DISTRONIC PLUS?
There is a difference between DISTRONIC and DISTRONIC PLUS, as the regular DISTRONIC system does not come with Steering Assist, only the cruise control. Furthermore, the regular DISTRONIC system is also not able to slow the car down completely.
DISTRONIC only applies the brakes to a certain MPH, after that you are the one who has to decide if you want the car to stop completely or not. The car will sound an audible alert when the system is supposed to let go, so you better be sure about which system you are using.
Are there any issues with DISTRONIC PLUS?
The DISTRONIC PLUS system is useful, but the system is not without its shortcomings. Some drivers think that the system disconnects the driver from the road a bit too much. Others believe that the breaking pressure while slowing the car down is a bit too exaggerated.
The main issue is thinking that you are able to relax and rely on the system to completely operate the car, as this might countereffect the benefits of these systems, and sometimes even cause accidents.
No matter how good the system is, the radars, sensors, and the algorithms that decide the cause of action might fail, and if they do, they might cause serious safety concerns if the driver is not 100% in control.