Those clever driver-assistance systems that keep you between the lines on the highway, make sure you’re not getting too close to the car ahead, and manage your speed are, usually, pretty good. But they’re not quite there yet. Certainly not at the stage you can safely remove your hands from the steering wheel and let the car cruise along all by itself. Try that, and the law would not look favorably upon you.
Most cars, like the old Mercedes E-Class, ask you to give the steering wheel a little wiggle every so often, so the systems know you’re holding on to the wheel and thus still very much in control. It does this even if the road is dead straight, so no input is required. This is annoying.
Enter the new E-Class, and its clever capacitive steering wheel that knows when you’re holding it, thanks to a two-zone sensor in the wheel rim. Now, all you need to do to let the car know you’re paying attention is keep your hands firmly on the wheel—which, let’s be honest, you should be doing, anyway.
Merc’s new wheel—which comes in ‘Luxury,’ ‘Sport,’ and ‘Supersport’ versions depending on whether you’ve got a normal, AMG-Line, or full-on AMG E-Class—also gets capacitive touch buttons that promise vast improvements on the old car’s annoying little touchpads. Happy days.
NOTE: This article first appeared on TopGear.com. Minor edits have been made.