As humans have evolve, the definition of getting 'most bang for your buck' has changed accordingly. So while in the 90s, it was about how efficient your car is, in 2014 it has evolved into how feature-rich your new car is. If you get what you pay for, then it is a good deal. If not, then the product has to justify its existence, or otherwise it's often met with failure.
Here we look at ten new features that we have come to expect from new cars these days. To keep things relevant, we are looking at a product in the sub-10 lakh Rupee price bracket. These features might only be available on a select few cars, but they sure can spoil you.
1. Daytime Running Lights
Function over form or form over function? The DRL (Daytime Running Lights) is the best balance of two. Positioned at the front of the vehicle, these always ON lamps enhance the vehicles presence on the road (hence taking care of safety) while making sure that the front end looks more attractive. These can be either built in the headlamp unit or be positioned elsewhere like near the fog lamp assembly etc.
2. Coming home/Follow me home headlamps
What happens when you park your car in the driveway but it is way too dark to get out and walk to your homes entrance? You cannot carry a torch always, can you? That is where the delayed switching off function of modern cars becomes helpful. Available under a variety of names like Coming Home, Follow Me home etc., the system keeps the headlamps on for a certain period of time even after you have locked the car and left. This way it helps you find your way back home.
3. Adjustable steering/seats
While it is relatively easier for the passengers to find a comfortable seating position for themselves, but it is certainly more important for the driver. Not only has to have a good view of the surroundings, he should be comfortable with the seat-steering arrangement. Height adjust for the driver seat and tilt and reach adjust for the steering are important features, especially when you want a bespoke driving position.
4. Keyless entry and push button start
Ability to enter the car without having to insert a key isnt anything new, but it is safer and easier to press a button to lock and unlock the doors. Isnt it? Also, the same applies for the ignition, too. If you have the smart key fob with you, the vehicle will let you start the car by pushing a button on the dashboard.
5. Multifunctional steering
You must have seen premium cars with a couple of buttons on their steering wheels, right? Well these buttons make controlling audio, switching menus, and varying cruise control speeds easy for the driver. The presence of these controls on the steering mean that the driver does not have to take his eyes off the road to switch a song or use the hands-free telephony feature.
6. Dead pedal, anti-pinch windows, and smart rear view mirrors
Thanks to the increased refinement of present day engines, the number of gearshift required has vastly reduced. This means you aren't operating the clutch as frequently as you must have back in the day. Hence there has to be a pedal where you could keep your left foot on, to rest. That is the dead pedal. It is a very useful on highway drives, and the lack of it results in a more tiring experience, especially if you are used to it.
Imagine a scenario when you were rolling up the windows and a co-passenger accidently keeps his hand on the glass. To save his/her hand from being crushed, all you needed to do was stop turning the window winder. But such is not the case when we talk about power windows: they can keep on going until you manually press the button. Thankfully the anti-pinch feature detects the presence of any obstruction and rolls down, in order to save those fingers that would have been otherwise crushed. Phew!
Outside rear view mirrors are now electrically controlled in some cars, and a few also have the option of folding them once the car is turned off. That way you make sure that no one accidently breaks them. Also, the inside rear view mirror comes with the ability to cut glare from headlamps, and also sports a screen which can double up as a display for the parking sensors/reverse parking camera.
7. Driver aids and Safety
To ensure safety and stability of the car under tricky conditions (slippery surfaces, heavy braking et al.), modern cars come with driver aids like ABS (Antilock Braking System), Traction Control, etc.
As for safety in case of an accident, there are passive safety features like impact beams, impact-absorbing structures etc., and there are active safety features like airbags which deploy under heavy crashes, hence making sure that the occupants do not hurt themselves by colliding with the interior of the car.
8. Climate control and rear AC vents
With the presence of climate control, you can just set a temperature and let the system maintain that for you. So unlike the cars with manual AC, you do not have to keep changing the fan speed/temperature frequently. Most cars have air conditioning vents at the front which circulate air in the whole of the interior. But that does not necessarily provide as much comfort to the rear passengers, and in hot sunny days, it can take very long for the system to cool the whole cabin. With rear ac vents, that problem is solved to a great extent.
9. In-car entertainment
With the ability to switch radio channels/CD or MP3 tracks by pushing a button on the steering wheel, it is easy to understand that music and driving almost go hand in hand. You can customise your cars audio system by adding better speakers/head- units/amplifiers etc., and there is no end to this. But even keeping that in mind, the systems provided by the manufacturer are feature laden. From touch-screen displays, telephone connectivity, navigation, and of course, the ability to accept various media formats (USB pen drives, Aux-in connections, CDs) to having inbuilt storage for songs, the in-car audio systems have come a long way indeed.
10. Parking aids
Parking spaces are becoming tighter and the car makers cannot generally compensate that by reducing their car's footprint. The best way out of this is a driver aid that makes parking into tight spaces an easy affair. Some cars come equipped with parking sensors, which according to the distance from walls/surrounding objects, make a beep to alert the driver. There is also the optional rear parking cameras which show how close you are to surrounding objects in real time. These features aren't limited to high-end cars alone, as even a few of the current hatchbacks come equipped with them.
Words- Paranjay Dutt