What’s your take on the increasing presence of electronic drivers aids in our cars? Does the idea of multi-stage traction control and systems that enable you to alter the steering and suspension settings on the move make you recoil in techno-phobic horror? Or does this kind of thing turn you on?
One of the best examples of the moment is the Mercedes E63 AMG. By playing with the numerous switches down by this car’s gearlever you can choose from three different damper settings, four different gearbox modes and three different programs for the ESP and traction-control systems.
If you then choose the “AMG Performance Package” option you can further tweak the chassis in all three of its suspension modes. Which is either deeply wonderful or completely unnecessary, depending on your take of the situation.
For some, being able to swap between different gearbox and suspension programs will be far too much to deal with. Just the mere fact that there are paddles behind the steering wheel, rather than a nice wooden-topped lever between the crumply leather seats, will be sufficient to send some people into apoplexy.
For others, though, what the E63 represents is a far broader range of abilities than has ever been available under just one roof. Once you become familiar with what the various buttons do, the way in which you can fine tune this car’s responses to suit different road conditions is genuinely incredible.
Yet it is not something anyone who takes a real interest in their driving should be scared of. It’s actually something to be embraced. Except, perhaps, by the punter who fancies himself behind the wheel of an E63 in 10 or 15 years’ time – because you do wonder what an E63 might be like when it reaches its sixth owner. And most of its digitised wizardry no longer works properly.
You’d have to hope, I guess, that it doesn’t get stuck in the super stiff track-day ride setting, with the slowest gearshift mode – and the traction control permanently defaulted to “off.”
Then again, even a half-functioning E63 will still be quite some car – especially when the asking price drops below eight grand…