Now, we’re not talking about Tesla’s automated wizardry or Audi’s ability to push an RS7 round a track unaided, or even Google’s experiments with driverless tech. No, we’re talking about our own Volkswagen Passat Alltrack. How so? Let us explain.
Strictly speaking, the Passat is not autonomous, and nor would Volkswagen tell you that it was and, even if you were to use the tools provided to let our big silver missile waft itself around, within a few minutes it would be furiously bonging at you to take control.
But, turn on the Passat’s automated cruise control, then flick the end of the indicator panel and select “Lane Assist” and the Passat will, in a minor way at least, look after itself on the motorway.
It’s a weird feeling, we’re well used to radar guided cruise control now, feeling the car marking itself against the one in front and maintaining a gap, but the active lane assist system is a new feeling. Instantly when you turn it on the steering stiffens up. The small cameras poking their little heads out of the wing mirrors have detected the white lines on either side of the car, and will now gently make sure the car stays between them.