Make caravan reversing a doddle with new Volkswagen Passat
An all-new 8th generation of the Volkswagen Passat arrives in January. Bringing new levels of refinement and spaciousness to a car that has sold 22 million units since its launch, it also features new levels of safety equipment making the Passat easier and safer to drive than ever before. Among them is a feature that will have strong appeal for anyone towing caravans or trailers – Trailer Assist.
A first from a car manufacturer, Trailer Assist is an assistance system that makes manoeuvring a trailer easier by automatically controlling lateral guidance of the car and trailer combination. It works by using cameras, the mirror adjustment switch and a display between the rev counter and speedometer to manually plot the direction to reverse.
- The driver stops at a suitable point and engages reverse gear. The system is activated by pushing a button.
- The current and possible steering angles are visualised in the instrument cluster. This is done based on image processing algorithms that evaluate the data from the rear view camera that observes the angle of the trailer in relation to the vehicle. The visually captured trailer angle is used to calculate the steering wheel angle independent of any special types of trailers or towbars.
- Using the mirror adjustment switch as a joystick, the driver uses it to adjust the desired driving direction of the car-and-trailer combination. The Passat takes the driver’s steering commands via the mirror adjustment switch and steers the vehicle; all the driver needs to operate are the brake and accelerator pedals. The Passat is turned by automatic control of the electro-mechanical servo steering system. It is always possible to make a correction by mirror adjustment.
- Trailer Assist can be deactivated by pressing the activation button again or by making a manual steering intervention. In this case, the vehicle-trailer is braked to a standstill. Trailer Assist also automatically slows the car down as soon as it exceeds a defined speed.
We tried out Trailer Assist at the new Passat’s international launch in Sardinia, and while it takes a certain amount of familiarisation to avoid having to continually stop and readjust the angles, there’s no doubt that it can be a signifiant help in reversing into awkward places.