Volkswagen’s new Tiguan off-roader, which gs on sale today, is a car that parks itself. VW has developed Park Assist, a gadget that steersthenewoff-roader inch-perfect into a tight kerbside space.

Here’s how it works. Press a button to launch the system and the £20,000 VW uses sensors at its front, rear and sides to pick out empty spots in busy city streets. Once it has found one big enough, it alerts the driver and tells him or her to select reverse. Once that’s done, the car steers itself into the spot. The driver controls the throttle and brakes while the car twirls its own wheel.

Once in and straight, the driver just needs to pull into the middle of the space, and park. The system then switches off. It’s set up to spot spaces to the car’s left. But if you want to park on the right, you flick the indicator stalk upwards and it switches its search. Currently the system is an extra, adding £450 to a Tiguan’s price. It’s also available on the Touran, VW’s seven-seat MPV.

It’s not yet perfect, because it needs two vehicles to park between and it will put itself level with them. Which is fine if they’re positioned neatly, parallel with and close to the kerb. But if they’re parked badly, feet from the kerb, so will you be.

We’ve tried the system and have quickly become fans. But do you think you’d feel happy trusting your car to park itself? Let us know, using the link below.

Stephen Jury


February 1, 2008