5 Modern Car Features We Take For Granted!

Jek Ray Low
13 Jan 2020

The term 'they don't make them like they used to', truly is a double edged sword... And here's why.

We are fortunate enough to be living in a time where automakers are in a seemingly frenzied race to fill their latest models with as many features and gizmos as possible. Even base variants have been graced with a healthy serving of tech and toys, more so than the luxury cars of yesteryear. A good benchmark for what is to come, is to take a look at more upmarket offerings, especially from established German luxury marques like Mercedes Benz, as toys fitted to their range-topping S Class have been known to trickle down into lesser models in the following years. Currently, and rather fortunately for the consumer, so feature-packed are our rides, that we have been desensitised by ever-growing spec lists, and pretty much have taken most of these pieces of equipment for granted. Here are 5 examples for cases in point!

5. Airbags

This is one feature no one wishes to ever use but can have a peace of mind that if, should the worst happen, there at least is something to cushion the blow. The airbag was initially conceptualised in 1919, though the one that we are familiar with only became a thing in 1964, though complete airbag systems, further refined, will only see widespread adoption in Mercedes Benz models in the 1980s.

Since then, emergence of airbag OEMs have furthered development whilst driving cost down, allowing manufacturers to liberally use airbags in even current model economy cars. Higher spec vehicles can come with any number of additional airbags, which include seat, curtain and knee airbags. Some cars, like the latest Range Rover Evoque, even have external pedestrian airbags that deploy in an accident to mitigate the risk of serious injuries.

4. Aircon

Can you imagine shuttling yourself from point-to-point in our heat without the luxury and the comfort of air-conditioning (I’ve tried out of curiosity; I will not recommend it!)? Pretty much every car sold in this country comes fitted with a/c as standard, but that, even till the mid-2000s at that, wasn’t always the case. Dodgy aftermarket aircon solutions can be fitted to these cars, but their efficacy is debatable, especially on a hot day!

Thankfully, the modern car air conditioning system, which really became a thing only in the 1970s, is much more effective. It uses a compressor and a refrigerant gas to create an evaporative cooling effect to cool the cabin. Modern technology also allows cars in the BMW lineup allows you to trigger the car’s ventilation remotely, meaning lower cabin temperatures when you first jump behind the wheel. Tesla has gone a step further, allowing to remotely switch the car’s a/c on, which should mean a nice and cold car the instant you hop in!

3. Safety Assists

It's safe to say that we all overestimate our driving abilities, with most car guys decrying the presence of assists in their rides. However, having a safety net has never been a bad thing, as safety systems such as traction control, anti-lock brakes and stability control, have helped to save lives. 

Automakers though, have been quick to embrace even newer developments in safety technology, integrating the existing systems with newer ones such as Adaptive Cruise Control, Automatic Emergency Braking and Lane Departure warning. Subaru’s Eyesight system is a good example. It uses 2 windscreen-mounted cameras which are constantly scanning the road ahead for obstacles, applying the brakes should there be a sudden and abrupt stoppage in traffic ahead.

2. Security Systems

A combination of a quality (sometimes even factory-fitted!) dash camera, and a more comprehensive central locking system, can mean that your car has never been more secure. Dash cameras can obviously help protect your NCD should you be involved in a collision that you are not at fault for, or perhaps even help exonerate victims of insurance fraud, but what most decent dash cams can do, is capture video when an impact or movement is detected even when your car is parked, giving you a real-time update of your car. Couple that, with more advanced alarms, and you can be sure that any would-be thief or vandal would be deterred. The dash camera can also mean gone are the days of sustaining damage from a hit-and-run in the carpark without a clue of who the culprit is!

1. Phone Mirroring

Phone Mirroring does exactly what it says on the tin. It mirrors your phone’s screen onto displays that are in your car, and with the 4G connection of your mobile phone, allows you to rapidly project your preferred navigation and music streaming apps onto a larger, easier-to-read display.

More involved systems can most definitely be found, such as those in the very latest MINI lineup. Their system has the ability to feed you information pertaining to weather, news and most important of all, real-time traffic information. It also pairs the system up with your calendar, and alerts you on when to leave for your next appointment, factoring traffic conditions with the travel time… all this, so that you will be able to arrive on time.

Their Natural Language Understanding systems works in seconds, meaning you can use your voice as a gateway to control your iPhone. Gone are the days of running lengthy auxiliary cables across your dashboard to your phone for your tunes!

The aftermarket has embraced the advancements in mobile navigation and music streaming and have come up with systems that provide similar features, but that can fit in older cars. Which is why if your budget doesn't allow for a spanking new ride, a tastefully updated one from our marketplace would do you nicely; some of these aftermarket solutions can be even more feature-packed than OE solutions!

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