Self-driving cars? They are here already - and here's one
SEAT Leon ST FR
Published 13/08/2014 | 02:30
SEAT have long since been the experiment when it comes to the group of cars in which they live.
As you probably know, they are owned by Volkswagen.
As, indeed, is half the world's car companies.
Being owned by such a big a profitable company comes with a lot of benefits.
And the big one is access to the latest technology.
The SEAT Leon ST FR is a diesel with lots of poke.
But the one I'm driving comes with a lot more accessories to marvel at because it goes nearer that self-driving car era.
A couple of years ago I was excited to drive the top spec Audi A7.
That's because I could sit back and let the car take the strain in the form of active cruise control. And now it's available on a standard five door hatchback or estate.
It uses a radar mounted on the front bumper to keep track of cars that are ahead of you.
All you have to do is set the maximum speed you want to travel at.
When you do the car will adapt to the speed of the traffic around you. When it detects a car ahead that's travelling slower than you it begins to match the speed.
Even if the driver hits the brakes your car will detect and warn you about the situation.
So why does this matter?
It stops you speeding for a start,
Andwhen you use it long enough you just don't notice what the car is doing.
Sure, when you're in a hurry then you'll want to turn it off.
But why do that when you can just lounge in the driver's seat and let the car get on with watching the traffic?
It also helps when, like me, you find yourself behind a driver with no brake lights.
The Leon ST is a really practical car.
The estate gives options for storage and expandability that a standard hatchback can't match.
There's one-touch handles in the boot for dropping the back seat and an opening for long objects that allows four seats to remain in place.
When you add the active cruise control it brings the car to a whole new dimensions.
You ge a level of relaxed driving and long distance doesn't bother you.
The half leather seats certainly help - and make it cosy.
If this is a sign of where self-driving cars are going I'll be extremelyhappy.
Just leave the steering wheel and pedals where they are.