Self-driving Mercedes brings impressive safety features

Self-driving Mercedes brings impressive safety features

As someone who loves driving, it may seem slightly strange that I am reporting on a car that can drive itself - but the reality is that I can't help but be captivated by the semi-autonomous technology which is already on offer in New Zealand.

So much has been made of self-driving Google cars and Uber taxis  - not to mention Tesla's (mostly) successful Autopilot function. Several automakers are well down the track with this technology.

But universal rollout of autonomous cars is a wee way off - not just due the usual coast and technology challenges, but also things like the standard of road markings and seasonal challenges (Volvo's self-drive test was curtailed after they realised the car was unable to see where to go in the snow - not a good thing in Sweden).

In the meantime, you can buy a car in New Zealand that will safely drive you down the highway. They're not all super expensive either - some sub-$60,000 cars like the Skoda Superb and Honda Accord will happily take you for a ride.

My latest self-drive was in the new Mercedes E-Class using a system called 'Drive Pilot', which can not only steer itself down a motorway but also safely change lanes when requested.

Should it go bad, there is probably no safer car to be in, because the E-Class features a couple of impressive new safety features.

The first 'Pre-safe Impulse Side' will physically move you away from the door ahead of an imminent side-on impact.

The second 'Pre-safe Sound' is a 'pink-noise' generator which moments before a smash plays a sound which prepares your ear drums for the bang, thereby reducing the chance of hearing damage.

The main goal is not to crash at all - so we decided to let the E-Class drive itself.