As technology advances, more and more automakers have started introducing newfangled enhancements to their existing or upcoming models. Improvements such as automated cruise control, collision warning and blind spot monitoring systems are commonplace these days. And these systems serve to protect the driver and the car. However, there are a number of other additions that are just downright unnecessary. So, here are a few of (what I think are) the worst trends in modern cars.
Granted, touchscreen infotainment systems can simplify and improve the overall aesthetic of a car’s interior. Most modern cars that have fewer button controls generally look cleaner and more minimalist. However, the lack of tactile buttons or physical dials makes it harder for drivers to keep their eyes on the road and concentrate while driving.
In older cars, changing the fan speed or the temperature is a breeze. But in newer cars with touchscreen controls, making any sort of adjustment to the air conditioning system is a hassle. The same can be said for radio or volume controls. A slip of the finger and you may end up deafening yourself and your passengers. Not to mention, navigating through the various menus is pretty much akin to using a mobile phone or a tablet in a car which is very dangerous.
Digital Side Mirrors
I’ll admit, digital side mirrors look immensely cool. And it may improve the car’s aerodynamic properties (slimmer protrusion = less air resistance). This technology has only been implemented by a few car manufacturers, so it is still not that commonplace. A digital monitor has its benefits when you’re driving in the dark, or in the rain. However, it is no match for a regular wing mirror when providing a clear view of the road behind. Furthermore, it may be harder to gauge the distance between your car and the next vehicle if you’re looking at a screen. And because such technology is so heavily reliant on electrical components, any failures in the system will basically render the driver blind to oncoming vehicles.
So keep it simple, use a regular wing mirror.
Just like touchscreen displays, digital instrument clusters sure look impressive. It allows for a wide range of display settings that can be calibrated to individual drivers. These displays can be customised to their personal preferences, like prioritising GPS navigation or displaying trip information like fuel economy. But this reliance on technology has its drawbacks as well. Such as delayed responses for changes in speed or rpm. Additionally, some screens may be prone to overheating if a car is parked under the sun for too long. In comparison, physical instrument dials and needles have been in use for decades. They are fool proof, tried and tested, and they work just fine for most if not all drivers.
This may be a point of contention for some. Sure, one can’t deny the convenience of flicking a lever to engage or disengage the handbrake. But occasionally, some drivers may forget to disengage the handbrake before setting off. While most e-brake systems disengage automatically when the driver sets off, it could add unnecessary stress on the parking brake cable. From my personal experience, an actual handbrake lever or a foot brake feels much more secure.
And of course, a manual handbrake lever gives you the option of executing a handbrake turn. Not that you should, but its nice to know that you can.
Stop start engine technology essentially turns off the car’s engine while a car is stationary for a period of time. When the driver takes their foot off the brake, the engine starts back up, ready to move again. This will minimise fuel costs for drivers in the long run, especially so if their commute includes many long stop lights or traffic stops. But the constant starting and stopping of the engine eventually wears it down due to lack of lubrication within the cylinders. It also adds additional stress to the starter motor, which may need to be replaced if burnt out.
That being said, it could potentially save you a few dollars every couple of fuel stops. And given time, it may end up being a substantial amount.
Bonus: Rev/Soft Limiters
In all honesty, rev limiters or soft limiters are effective in protect a car’s engine from overheating or damage. And while this feature is more prevalent in modern performance cars with larger displacement engines, it may not be to everyone’s liking. Some drivers may want to rev the engine to the redline while stationary because they like the sound of the engine. Or maybe they’re just showing off. But either way, it is more of a buzzkill than a bad trend. And I for one, prefer it in the good old days.