Tuesday, February 6, 2018

EXCLUSIVE: On Manila's Roads with Subaru EyeSight


There was much ado about the Subaru EyeSight during its launch in Singapore last month. Seeing as how this is already the third-generation of the EyeSight to launch, with some regions having already enjoyed it as a dealer option, there is a level of expectation, considering Subaru’s claims that it has been tested in most—if not all—Southeast Asian countries where the brand is currently distributed.

The initial reports had been run and the interviews had been covered, but the question remains: just how effective and helpful will it be in Manila’s rush-hour stop-and-go traffic? With unforgiving motorists and multi-colored street markings, will the EyeSight be the ultimate driver stress buster, or will itself fall victim to traffic stress?

For this road test, we took the Subaru XV 2.0i-S equipped with EyeSight for a week, driving it in various weather conditions. And this is how it fared:


Keeping the Proper Distance

Hands-down, Adaptive Cruise Control with Lead Vehicle Start Alert was the crowd favorite during the closed-track demo in Singapore. The focus of the demo then was the Lead Vehicle Start Alert, which initially led us to believe that its “adaptive” feature would only engage coming from a full stop and, once the lead vehicle moves out of the lane, it was necessary to re-set the system to identify a new lead vehicle. If this was the case, it would be a cool feature to have, but not at all functional, in the long run. Where was the utility?

The EyeSight proved to be smarter than we thought. While cruise control can only be engaged at a minimum speed of 30kmh, the adaptive feature can actually apply itself simultaneously, without driver interference or being at full stop. It is only necessary to engage at full stop when coming from a crawl and not at speed.


To illustrate, regular cruise control keeps the car running at the desired maximum speed that is set by the driver for as long as the brakes or accelerator are not applied. With the EyeSight technology, once the car is in cruise control and detects a vehicle in its direct line of sight, the “adaptive” feature automatically engages, identifying that vehicle as its lead and begins to follow its pace once it slows down and eventually brakes to a stop. When the lead vehicle moves out of its direct line of sight, regular cruise control automatically takes over again until it identifies another vehicle as the new lead. And so on and so forth until the driver puts his foot on the brake or accelerator to disengage the system completely.

During the Singapore event, there were passing comments that this was perfect for Manila’s stop-and-go traffic, alleviating driving discomfort from the constant pedal switching. Quite frankly, it proved to be useful, not just in traffic situations, but also in maintaining a consistent speed level on the road. We took it down EDSA in the nighttime just to see how it would fare. System accuracy was as responsive as we would expect it to be during the day and engagement remained fluid and uninterrupted. The best part? Our foot was off the brake and the accelerator the whole time until the situation called for a driver takeover, which was necessary when approaching intersections and lane-changing.


Always Keeping An Eye Out

While this is technically not a part of the EyeSight system, it is a feature for keeps. Admittedly, no matter how often a driver checks his mirrors, he cannot see every object moving about his car. While going through streets that are heavy with motorcycle riders, the beauty of the new XV’s monitor is its wide sensor range: it spots a moving object before it even gets close enough to be in the actual blind spot. Whether it’s a car moving into the next lane or a motorcycle getting a little too close for comfort, this monitor would automatically send a signal to keep the driver in check—and quite accurately, too!


Making Parking A Cinch

We agree that parking is a skill that every driver needs to master—with a little help every now and then. Instead of just guidelines to illustrate the width of the car, one of the more helpful indicators is the “wheel turn guide” that shows in which direction the car is exactly going while in reverse. While most seasoned drivers will argue that this makes for lazy parking, it is applicable to drivers that are either not quite adept to reverse parking, or in cases that the parking area is tight and has little visibility.

The other notable monitor is the “rear obstruction” alert. Again, for drivers that are not used to backing up or when encountering objects (or, persons) that suddenly move in the way. The alert will show a solid green patch on the car’s monitor, indicating that there is a blockage. This can range from actual moving objects to even just the car parked right behind you.


Anti-Distracted Driving

For this feature, we do not refer to a lead vehicle set for the adaptive cruise control. Even without engaging the cruise control mechanism, the EyeSight camera keeps tabs on the vehicle up front so that when it moves ahead, up to a certain distance, the car automatically alerts the driver that he should likewise accelerate to close the gap.


One Little Problem

One downside that came from this road test was that the Lane-Sway and Departure Warning feature of the EyeSight did not manifest, despite it being kept active throughout the drive. Based on the brief, the alert will only engage if the vehicle was running at a minimum speed of 60km/h. On several occasions that we pushed the speed limit and purposely moved over and beyond the lane markings, the XV did not give out any sort of warning. We concluded that perhaps this feature would be better suited on a free-flowing highway.

Beware of Motorcycles

In addition, if there was one thing that would make the EyeSight’s adaptive system even better, it would be the ability identify motorcycles as actual vehicles, similar to how it identifies 4-wheelers and trucks. The current system only views motorbikes as either moving objects or obstructions. In a country like the Philippines where the motorcycle market is growing, it is necessary that driver assist technologies include these kinds of vehicles in its sensor base.


When it comes to the drive of the vehicle, there is nothing to be said about the Subaru XV. The overall drive experience consistently puts it a notch above other models on the same category. With the new EyeSight, it is clear that the brand is paving the way toward offering another level of driving to its customers. Granted, the system is not perfect and may not be for everyone, but it’s proving to be relevant, especially in these times when the best one can do, at the moment, is to adapt.

Words and Photos by Gen Tiu.

9 comments:

  1. Do you think it's worth selling my current 2018 XV Premium for a lose and replace it with one that has Eyesight?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Honestly, no. It’s a great toy for sure and it would be great to have it, but it doesn’t warrant having you purchase a new car just to get it. If you’re on the fence in getting an XV, this may help you consider it.

      Delete
  2. "The overall drive experience consistently puts it a notch above other models on the same category"

    This sentence gave it away. This revealed that this poetic review of the eyesight is a paid one. I'm referring to the Poor Man's BMW of course, the Mazda.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If it’s a paid story, it would be indicated as such. Did you see anything that says, “paid” or “advertorial”?

      Delete
    2. Burned. Insecure Mazda fanboy LOL

      Delete
    3. Burned so hot here, If you see some Subaru article don't it if we talk here same comment. lol

      Delete
    4. Burned so hot here, If you see some Subaru article don't read* it if we talk here same comment. lol

      Delete
  3. I heard from a colleague in singapore that it has difficulty detecting motorcycle and bikes whiich are way more numerous here

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The system is supposed to be able to detect bikes and pedestrians in theory. This review has proven otherwise, however.

      Delete

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