Distronic - radar cruise control?

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This looks like really exciting technology. I have to drive about 110 miles a day on UK motorways, quite often in dense traffic, and the tedium of continually adjusting speed to match the leading vehicle is starting to get
to me.
The idea of a car which effectively drives itself in dense traffic sounds potentially like one of the best innovations since air-con. But I am suspicious as to how well it works, I can well imagine it may leave an enourmous gap, merely encouraging other drivers to hop in.
Anyone had any experience with it?
Apparently it doesn't work under 18mph, which I reckon is a real shame, because if there was a system that automatically advanced the car in stop/start traffic then I would be at an M-B dealership *tommorow*!
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miles
get
I think that is what testers have said (though IIRC it was about the Jaguar system - but doubt the Merc system is different). Basicially, if the computer leaves enough space for you to react to an emergency ahead, that will be regarded as an enormous gap by white-van man and he will undertake you and slot in front. If you think it bad in UK, try driving in Italy...
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Do just a tad more research than you have done, like reading a Mercedes brochure, and you will learn that the RADAR-assisted cruise control is a far cry from "a car which effectively drives itself", especially in dense traffic.
MB's glossy sales literature, which is typically aimed at inspiring a prospect to become a customer, is usually light of engineering details (unserstandably). But even within this context they are careful to advise that their system is not a substitute for inattentive driving. Here is what MB has to say:
"Distronic adaptive cruise control is no substitute for active driving involvement. It does not react to stationary objects, nor recognize or predict the curvature and lane layout of the road or the movement of vehicles ahead, and it can only apply a maximum of 20% of vehicle braking power. It is the driver's responsibility at all times to be attentive to traffic and road conditions, and to provde the steering, braking, and other driver inputs necessary to retain control of the vehicle."
Simply put, MB's Distronic RADAR-assisted cruise control is basically cruise control that can make minor speed adjustmants for you automatically based on the distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. It's a nice innovation, but auto-pilot it is not.
-Steve Makohin | Reply to snipped-for-privacy@interlog.com | (hotmail acct is spam catcher)
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Gordon bennet - i don't think for a moment he needed a lecture like that...
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I think he understood that the driver still has to drive the car.

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2000 BMW R1100S/ABS | (hotmail acct is spam catcher)
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Slightly offtopic:
If you hadn't already thought of it, specify Parktronic for your CLK Cab. Essential.
Rgds DAS --
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Hello Dori,

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Steve, I had never driven (parked!) with Parktronic or any such aid before and it really helps, at least the Merc version does. I took it on the advice of the dealership salesman and I am glad I did (I already had it on my list of possible toys).
Visibility out of a cabriolet, especially at rear, is restricted. (I have a CLK Cab, as you may know.)
It gives a good indication of proximity to difficult-to-see objects. With time you learn to interpret the signals, which are sound and light signals of increasing intensity. When the indication is "very close" (continuous tone and light full on/all bars illuminated) you get out of the car and see the actual remaining distance to gain confidence. You get signals at the front and sides near the front, as well as rear. The light is set into the rear seat and only comes on when engaging reverse.
Maybe you can test this out at a dealership.
What other options have you considered and which have you specifically rejected? I also have the integrated car kit, but this may work differently in the US. It's just as well I did it as holding a phone while driving is becoming an offence on 1 Dec 03 in the UK.
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Steve (Sorry, I prefer top-posting)
Thanks for your nice comment.
On a CLK 55 you probably get quite a few items thrown in that are optional extras on 'lower' versions.
Yes, the visibility out of the Cab is "acceptable" but it's still not as good as out of a car with full-size rear window. If you're spending all that money the extra is not so great; anyway, do test it as you said you would.
Regarding the other options in or out, I would say: - CD changer. Great, I am sure, if you spend a lot of time in the car listening to CDs. I only have a single-disc player (Audio 10) but I spend a lot of the little time in the car listening to the radio (in the UK we have the excellent BBC Radio 4 and the World Service, if you like news and current affairs as well as radio drama, that is). On the few longer journeys I make I don't mind manually changing 2 or 3 CDs. I do only about 6 000 miles 10 000 km pa tops.
- Integrated hands-free telephone kit. I paid about GBP 400 / USD 600 for it. How much is now in the US? If you don't use the phone much and it's not illegal to hold a phone, then I guess you don't need it. Also, the type of PDA and how it's used is very personal. I don't think I would like to have a phone/PDA combo as I like to be able look at the PDA while phoning. (I have a Palm m505.) However, a neighbour swears by his integrated PDA/phone device. It's called an xda by the mobile phone operator that supplies it and is Pocket PC based (it's sold under various names around the world). He used to have a Palm.
I must say it is great to be able to receive calls without having to lift a finger off the steering wheel and to make calls, even if 'only' to those numbers stored on the SIM card.
The 'air flow' seats sound good but why do you need them? Aren't you having air-conditioning? And when the roof and a/c are off on a hot day you won't be worrying about a cool derriere...
Whatever you get, I think it'll be terrific.
DAS --
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<snip great feedback about CLK cab and options>
Thank you for your comprehensive feedback. I am just scoping out my first Mercedes (I currently own 3 BMWs). I've heard "horror stories" about MB's "quality issues" and reliability, though my possibly flawed reasoning tells me these viewes are expressed by a relatively few number of very vocal people. A MB salesperson (consume large grain of salt at this point) told me that the "quality" issues reported by the JD Powers Survey were based on year 2000 models that had an unusually high incident rate of light bulbs burning out.
Can you shed some light on the "real story" and tell me what to expect with respect to mechanical failures. Assume that I am diligent in having recommended routine maintenance performed.
-Steve Makohin | Reply to snipped-for-privacy@interlog.com | (hotmail acct is spam catcher)
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a relatively few number of very vocal people. A MB salesperson (consume large grain of salt at this point) told me that the "quality" issues reported by the JD Powers Survey were based on year 2000 models that had an unusually high incident rate of light bulbs burning out. <
Oh, and that, too! Yes, best I can tell you from official scuttlebutt (a couple of friends are managers with MBNA) Osran bulbs have been a problem....along with quite a few other things!
No, the "JD Power survey" is not one, but several studies, and on all of them MB has fallen to average or below. In this year's "Vehicle Dependability Index "(VDI) 2000 model year MBs did poorly. In the 2003 "Initial Quality Study" (IQS), which shows owner experiences at 90 days in service (indicative of what you can expect of a car you'd buy today) MBs showing was equally poor, and in the 2003 "Customer Service Index" (CSI), which rates MB dealers on their service quality, the results are just as bad.
In NONE of these comprehensive studies did MB score higher than average, and it comes together like this: If you buy a new MB you're likely to have problems with it, at three years in service you will have had problems with it, and during that time your dealer is more likely than not to provide no better than average service.
This is all borne out by my personal experiences with three E Class' since 1997, although I must say the current one, a 2000 E430 Sport has been a great car with but a few problems, almost all caused by the dealers themselves when I took it in for simple maintenance services. And, this car was provided by MB back in 2000 after my dealer wrecked my '98 E43 Sport TWICE!
On the current car, the dealer broke the passenger mirror at PDI, then they broke the AC panel during the service appointment to fix the mirror. At the first "A" service another dealer offered me a free resort weekend if I'd let them fill out my MB Customer Satisfaction questionnaire! At the first "B" service yet another dealer 1) broke the key, 2) broke the air mass meter and tried to return the car to me unable to rev over 1,000 RPM! At the next "A" service another dealer spilled oil all over the front of the engine and gave it back to me with the "low coolant" light on. It goes on, but you get the picture. This is my last Mercedes Benz.
Unfortunately JD Power only reports the top ten on these surveys so you really can't pinpoint exact standings, but check out their web site and you'll notice MB never ranks in the top ten. Power studies are only indicators, but when you combine them with the less robust Consumer Reports standings and customer word of mouth, MB is not doing well.
I've been a big MB fan for some time, but I've become very disappointed. As you can see, my experiences have been generally bad with MB service all over the Country, it seems they are simply overwhelmed and unable to cope with the sheer service volume resulting from their sales increases over the past few years, much of which is made up of some really bad products like the ML and C Class. Indeed, one of my friends is a field manager for MBNA and candidly stated the C Class is the worst product they've ever released. Quite an indictment.
In closing, a very big dealer on Long Island, Rallye Motors, is also a BMW store. One of their managers stated that although they began as a MB organization years ago, they now consider themselves a BMW dealership, with an MB dual. He claimed MB has completely lost its way and is now run by what he described as "cast off marketing refugees" from the US domestic motor industry who haven't a clue. That's a terrible indictment, and one to ponder if you're an MB executive scratching your head.
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Do you know where I could read reliability results for the 1999 S -420? Consumers Reports doesn't keep reliability records (that I can find) for the S Class.
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You might try e-mailing JD Power & see if they can give you any info re: how the car ranked, etc. As I recall the old S-Class was one of the best in that years survey, maybe in the top ten. Not sure ....
wrote in message

in
(CSI),
the
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On Thu, 6 Nov 2003 08:12:19 -0700, "Gerald G. McGeorge"

    I think that's just the website. The Fall 2003 JD Power magazine ranks MBZ at 26th (tied with Audi) in the dependability study, with 318 problems per 100 vehicles, well below the industry average of 273. Lexus, which other posters have mentioned, is number one with 163 problems per vehicle reported. Porsche is number one in overall corporate rankings, with 193 ppv (this is due to Toyota being combined for this ranking, and their 201 ppv average brought down the Lexus score).     Emanuel
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I can only give you anecdotal evidence, but my 1999 S-420, the last year of the 140 chassis, (and the year before the storied problems with the 2000 S Class upon a complete makeover of the S-Class) seems trouble free at 56,000 miles. There was an air conditioning problem at 38,000 miles fixed under warranty, and a hydraulic door closer leak, fixed at 38,000 miles. I've had one tail light go out. Normal items (Front brake pads at 48,000, new tires at 38,000 miles) are expensive at the dealer, but unless I'm just lucky so far, the small V-8 in the 140 chassis S-Class of 99 seems to be just great on reliability and quality. Makes me feel like a rich guy every time I drive it. Double paned glass in the windows, and superior suspension, with huge rear leg room for passengers, make it a great trip, or go out to dinner car. However, it is slow off the line, and won't ever replace a sports car. YMMV

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Steve, you're very welcome
As you can see also from posts just after yours there are a number of unhappy bunnies out there. Some of the problems are caused by the dealerships and I can say that over the years I have never experienced such bad things in the UK, Germany and (on one emergency visit) the Netherlands.
I think there are quite a few happy owners of recent models, too, however, even in this newsgroup.
My Mercs have been of the 'old school' until my 2001 CLK Cab. My other car is a 1993 190E 2-litre, which I felt was silly to sell as for the little money received I would be unlikely to get such a decent car (we have become a 2-car family!).
I have had the CLK since May 01 and have done (only) 14 000 miles. As mentioned, I have had only a couple of niggles (one fixed, the other the frame around the a/c vent in the driver's footwell, which appears to be partly broken and about which I shall eventully do something). Every time I get into it I feel a sense of occasion.
On my old car I had a Blaupunkt radio problem which took weeks not to get fixed properly; in the end the delays turned out to be mostly Baupunkt's fault and the radio was uneconomical to repair. For the inconvenience the Merc service adviser offered me a free service (on my new car), which I took up. Very commendably the Merc garage honoured the deal even though considerable time passed and the service adviser had moved to another branch and I had nothing in writing. They spoke to him and it was ok.
After following this newsgroup I have become much more aware of people's concerns with Merc cars, and in a recent article by a motoring journalist in Britain's leading quality Sunday paper there was a reference to the smaller Merc's "increasingly shabby" interiors, but he did mention BMW in the same 'shabby' breath!
Up to a few years ago I used to see copies of the monthly magazine of the ADAC, Germany's leading motorists' organisation. My dad was a member (living in Germany). Once a year they publish failure statistics from their own call-out records and it would be interesting to see how Merc has fared. When I read it the Big 3 Japanese marques were tops in reliability in the classes where they were represented, but Merc performed creditably, with BMW following closely. This info is available online, I think, but you have to be a member or otherwise pay to gain access. The URL is http://www.adac.de/Default.asp?TL=2 There is even an invitation to join in English...
There are at least two people who participate or have participated in this group who work in dealerships, one in the UK. It would be interesting to see their comments.
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