Car tech is redefining the driving experience. But sometimes it can be difficult to sort the innovative from the gimmick. Here’s the technology you should prioritise the next time you get a car…
The Car Tech That’s Worth Having
Reversing Camera And Sensors
We know, you’re excellent at parking and manoeuvring; you don’t need to convince us. But regardless of your driving ability, a reversing camera and sensors can make your life a lot easier. Whether you’re in a poorly-lit car park or a busy high street full of pedestrians, they’ll save you constant glances and second-guessing. No driver is perfect, so this nifty car tech can save the stress and hassle of bumps and scrapes; or worse.
Automatic Emergency Braking
We’d be hard-pressed to think of a more useful safety feature than automatic emergency braking (AEB). It does what it says on the tin, bringing a car to a stop automatically if sensors detect an obstacle. The most sophisticated versions can detect other road-users, such as pedestrians and cyclists, as well as other cars. A lot of cars now come with AEB as standard and it’ll be made mandatory next year. Until then, make sure any car you buy has it (it may save your life, or that of someone else).
Good car tech, like any good technology, deals with a real problem and in a simple way. Heated car seats may sound tempting, but they really can’t do anything a jumper or coat can’t. A heated windscreen, however, can take the laboriousness out of defrosting a car and significantly speed up the process. This feature doesn’t simply blast warm air at the windscreen either, we’re talking about elements in the glass that dispenses with ice and frost instantly. It’s fairly affordable, too, with prices sitting at around £300. Not a bad price for never having to deal with defrosting stress again, right?
Android Auto / Apple CarPlay
Lots of cars come with sophisticated infotainment systems and built-in sat navs. The trouble is car manufacturers, with a few exceptions, aren’t software companies; so what they roll out is rarely stellar. It’s a good job we’ve got a choice of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, then. These basically allow you to control your car’s infotainment system with your phone and use all of its apps via the car itself. That means access to Google Maps, Waze and all the podcasts and music you could hope for.
Adaptive Cruise Control
How useful adaptive cruise control is really depends on how much driving you do and where. If you’re just nipping to the shops in a Volkswagen Up! it’s probably not worth the investment. If, however, you’re clocking a lot of miles on motorways and in and around cities it can be a godsend. With supervision, your car will handle some braking and acceleration for you, making demanding and monotonous journeys easier to stomach. It used to be a luxury feature, but now you can get it in the likes of humble Ford Fiesta. Power to the people…Well, motorists.
The Car Tech That’s Not Worth Having
We briefly mentioned heated seats earlier. They’ve developed something of a legendary appeal, becoming the mark of ‘luxury’ for some drivers. But what do they do that a car’s heating can’t or, for that matter, an extra layer of clothing? If it’s the thick of winter, you’re probably wrapping up anyway. For us, heated seats are very much in the ‘gimmick’ category.
Most of us dispensed with physical car keys (the turning kind) years ago. In their place, we turned to increasingly smaller fobs that could open our cars, from a distance, with a push of a button. Precisely how groundbreaking this development was isn’t as clear as you might think. After all, we’re happy enough to use physical, turning keys to get into our homes. What we do think is useless, however, is keyless entry. This is the means of getting into your car without pressing or turning anything. This might be useful if you’re overcome with luggage but, other than that, it’s not really changing anyone’s life or routine.
Heated Steering Wheel
Where will it end, heated buttons and radio knobs? Not everything in a car needs to be heated; someone should tell car manufacturers. How often do you wear driving gloves? Not often, we’re willing to bet. You don’t wear them because you don’t need them. As a consequence, you almost certainly don’t need a heated steering wheel. This is just another gimmick that adds needless costs to cars, insurance and maintenance.
Ambient Mood Lighting
Yes, mood lighting is now a thing and it’s available from major brands like Kia and Skoda. Bright shades of reds, blues and greens can turn the inside of your car into the Northern Lights. Some advanced systems will change the colour and intensity to match the beat of the music you play. This will probably be entertaining for a couple of journeys, after that it’s just destined to bore or, worse, distract drivers. Gimmick.
Moisture Sensing Windscreen Wipers
Thank the heavens for moisture sensing windscreen wipers. After all, it’s not like you’d notice rain on the windscreen, the thing separating you (the driver) from the road in front of you. And think of the sweat you’ll save, not having to manually flick a switch to activate your wipers. Cancel your daughter’s wedding, stop your charity subscriptions, this is where your money should be going…Yes, we’re being sarcastic.
Repair Costs For Tech-Packed Cars Are Being ‘Overlooked’ – https://autoserve.co.uk/motoring-news/repair-costs-tech-packed-cars-overlooked/
In-Car Tech: A Third Of British Drivers Are Left Stumped By Latest Gadgets – https://autoserveclub.co.uk/blog/in-car-tech-a-third-of-british-drivers-are-left-stumped-by-latest-gadgets/