Subaru’s Eyesight: Clear or Clouded Vision?

Subaru Forester 2.5i-sHumans are a resourceful lot, thanks, in part, to our binocular vision. Not in the sense that they’ll magnify things but our eyes give us stereoscopic depth perception. Although they may get a little blurry after a late night, proving it’s not a foolproof system, there’s still an organic hi-tec element to play with. Subaru have looked at this and have put their electronic version in place. Called Eyesight (naturally)the system is based on two cameras, left and right of the normally mounted rear view mirror.
What does it do? In simple terms, it reads the distance between your car and the one ahead; if you’re in cruise control mode it then works with the car’s computer to automatically slow the car down (and stop) if it reads that the aforementioned preceding vehicle is slowing to below your preset speed. Even better, there’s three preset distances that the system will read. Also, if the cruise is off, it’ll still kick up an audible fuss to tell you there’s an object ahead.
A Wheel Thing spent time with this hi-tech magician, with a Forester i-S wrapped around it. It’s an eerie and unnerving SUBARU-EYESIGHT-SYSTEM_610x528thing to deal with, with an almost uncontrollable urge to lift the foot and plant it hard on the stop pedal, placing your trust in electronics……but it works. And therein lies the rub….more on that later. It’s paired up with a lane change sensing system, which will beep shrilly if you dare cross over a solid or unbroken white line without engaging the indicator. It’ll also read painted over white lines, such is the sensitivity. Thankfully there’s an override switch, due to the fact that we humans can make a conscious decision to cross a line to get a better driving line…..yes, it can be that annoying, depending on your driving style.
Subaru-eyesightThe Si Forester is powered by Subaru’s proven 2.5L boxer four cylinder. It’s a punty, tractable little engine, mated well with a CVT box and providing good acceleration plus a rorty note when pushed. Torque is the factor with a CVT and there’s enough on tap here (235Nm @ 4100rpm) to motivate along nicely. The CVT is a weak point in the driveline timeline, taking a few tenths to engage drive from reverse, or from part to reverse, with a slide and lock feel rather than an instant grab for gear. There’s the offroad mode, X-Mode; the Sports and Intelligent modes providing two different driving styles, five seats and the slightly annoying raised cargo lid at the rear. Something that bemused a friend that tried the car was the intelligent stop/start system. With the car having keyless entry and start/stop controlled by a button, the extra step is taken to have the engine stop running if the computer senses no forward motion and sufficient brake pedal pressure. It’s nigh near impossible to sense when it switches off and re-engagement of the engine is done by simply lifting the foot enough so the computer reads it. There’s  barely a noise as the engine switches in; it’s a clever and sensible addition to the car’s technological armoury. The interior has heated, leather clad and comfortable seats (surprisingly useful the heating on a cold morning), a touchscreen satnav/soundsystem and is wonderful to drive, absorbing bumps with grace and finesse and hanging on in corners with a tenacious grip. The exterior is a edgy evolution of models past, as discussed recently. There’s a nifty feature for the tailgate; a memory system can be programmed so the gate lifts to a predetermined level upon opening, ideal for smaller garages.Subaru forester memory tailgateSubaru Forester i-S interior
But back to the Eyesight system…..It works wonderfully well, for the most part. Exactly like human eyesight, it’s blinded by Sol’s glare. Like a human, it can shut off and ignore what’s directly in front. It’s “limited” to working on three present distances but can adapt remarkably quickly, engaging the braking system potentially faster than a human. It’ll also warn you loudly, when the cruise control is disengaged, that there’s something in front of you. A Wheel Thing’s beef is this: humans respond to training, education, experience, we become smarter by learning and by doing things for ourselves. The intent of Eyesight is, no pun intended, clear; to help reduce tail end crashes. In Australia’s most populated states, the majority of tail end crashes happen at or below the local posted limit and are predominantly on freeways, where cruise control isn’t engaged. The human driver is still the best computer in a car but to fiddle with its programming, by removing the responsibility chip, has the potential to make a smart computer not so intelligent where it counts.

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