Modern Automotive Gimmicks

Jek Ray Low
27 Apr 2021

Not too long ago, bread-and-butter cars served one purpose, and did it well – move its occupants from point A to point B without any superfluous fuss. They were refreshingly simple, and that has a charm in itself.

If it’s the experience within the vehicle that you are after, more upmarket vehicles are available. Performance cars are excellent for spirited drives, though you’d probably seek just as much joy being chauffeured around the rear of a luxury saloon.

The Modern Automobile
The cars of today are arguably less exciting than those of yesteryear. In an era of electrification and efficiency, government regulations have neutered the driving experience, making even the most exciting cars seem humdrum and lacklustre compared to its predecessors.

Also, changing consumer mindsets have altered the way manufacturers go about designing and manufacturing their cars. Gone are the days when people are content with a pared down, back-to-basics car. We demand luxuries even in the most affordable vehicles.

It is by no means an easy task that automakers have on hand, balancing consumer wants/needs with stringent government regulations and protecting their own bottom line. Which is probably why many have begun to resort to utilising some gimmicks to shift the volume they need to survive.

If your glasses are very much rose-tinted, and you do not believe in subscribing to modern consumerism, perhaps you may want to take a gander at the portfolio of used cars we have on the Cars For Sale section of the Carousell App! Otherwise, here are some common automotive gimmicks in use today!

4) Reusing Iconic Nameplates

Humans are emotional creatures. We reminisce the “good old days”, believing that things were just done better in the past. This is why retro car styling has been a thing for decades – nostalgia sells.

In fact, manufacturers are not just retro-styling their new models. Automakers have been reusing nameplates at a greater rate in recent years, with the revival of the 86 nameplate being one such example. Again, as long as the formula and spirit of the original is preserved, there should be no real reason to criticise such a decision. You can even argue that the BMW-built Mk5 Supra has rekindled some of that Supra magic too, as controversial as it sounds.

It is when automakers apply iconic names to completely unrelated models that have had the internet up in arms about. Certain nameplates evoke certain emotions and imagery, and it seems almost insulting that these may have been used on vehicles that bear no visual or mechanical resemblance to the model that the nameplate has been used on.

3) Fake Engine Noise

Actually... you can have anything you want, if you know how to re-programme the thing!

This actually isn’t that new of a gimmick. Ever since the 2010s, governments globally have cracked down on exhaust volume and emissions. To create an illusion of a rawer driving experience, automakers have designed their air intakes and exhaust systems to recreate additional noise, adding additional componentry to exaggerate or pipe the noise into the cabin.

However, as modern cars gain turbos in the name of efficiency, those alone may not be enough. Which is why automakers have begun to reclaim some of that driving pizzazz through artificial engine noises that are played through the speakers. These are designed to enhance the driving experience, which is fair enough in a high-performance vehicle. However, they have also fitted such systems to pure EVs, which can be seen as a tad tacky in our books.

2) Paddle Shifters

Again, in cars that actually NEED paddle shifters, this isn’t a gimmick at all. Sports/supercars have had them for years. These levers are electronically linked to the gearboxes and pulling on them triggers a lighting fast gear change. We can even understand their use in EVs. They have been adapted as a convenient way for drivers to toggle between the different energy regeneration modes in modern day EVs.

However, it seems that pretty much every modern car now comes with paddle shifters. Perhaps car manufacturers would want you to channel your inner Lewis Hamilton and have you use the paddles as you go about your day. Unfortunately, most modern econobox autos are slow and sluggish even in automatic mode – having a manual override just exaggerates the issue.

Also, there are CVT cars with this “manual override” – CVT cars do not have any physical gears, so all the paddles do, is give you the illusion of greater control. In the latter scenarios, paddles do not offer any tangible benefit over just letting the car do its thing, so why fit them in the first place?

1) Large Tablet Screens

This is actually a gimmick that I can get behind. Cars regardless of price or class are now increasingly being fitted with large tablet-like screens that are tacked onto the centre of the dashboard. In offers superior functionality to the headunits of the past.

Some brands have even opted to ditch the buttons for the climate control, shifting everything onto the screen itself.

These screens can connect to the web, allowing you to serve the net when you are stationary. There are applications for your every need, and can really transform your car into a mobile cinema should you wish to do so.

Realistically though, the additional processing power is sure to be underutilised, as chances are you’d connect it to Android Auto/Apple Carplay anyways, and using it on a daily basis for navigation and for music.

As we’ve mentioned above, if the concept of modern consumerism does not appeal to you, you may perhaps want to consider shopping used for your next car purchase. The Cars For Sale section of the Carousell app contains thousands of used cars listings, at all different pricepoints and from different marques. With hundreds of listings added daily, our expansive catalogue means that you can definitely find something to suit your needs regardless of budget or needs!

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