The amount of technology being packed into new cars these days is astounding.
Naturally, not all of it is essential, as outlined in our recent ‘irritating car features we could do without’ column.
On the flip side though, there are some gadgets that we’ve grown so accustomed to these days that it just doesn’t feel right when they’re not there. That can be either because it’s a bog-spec entry-level model or maybe it’s an optional extra that wasn’t ticked when the car was ordered.
These are some of the car features that really should be standard by now.
Wind-down windows belong in the 1970s. Any car that doesn’t come with electronically controlled windows wants launching into the nearest pillar.
Remote central locking
Humans have reached a point in their convenience expectations that sticking a key into a door and turning it is deemed to be a hassle. We now expect our cars to magically let us in with the mere press of a button.
Let’s face it, the last thing any motorist wants are leads and cables causing tripping hazards in their interior; the wonder that is Bluetooth makes it possible to stream your tunes and phone calls straight from your generic smartphone device through your car’s speakers. Magic.
While Bluetooth is ideal, aux-in is the absolute minimum modern motorists should accept. This means drivers can hook-up their phone (or standalone MP3 player if people still use those) to listen to their own tunes. Admittedly, this means there’s a cumbersome wire stinking up the cabin but in this desperate case, we have to allow it.
FM and MW radio is old hat; the only way to listen to radio these days is digitally. All the coolest stations are there – BBC 6Music, 1Xtra, 4 Extra, LBC, Absolute 80s – and any car manufacturer demanding extra cash for the privilege of listening to these stations are nothing less than tyrannical money grabbers.
A sixth gear
There’s a decent argument to be made that five-speed gearboxes should be illegal by now. On the motorway, they guzzle fuel by not restricting your engine’s headroom. Five-notch transmissions tend to pop up in base or lower-trim models (Peugeot’s five-speeder is notably nasty) and it’s time they were given at least one more gear.
Steering wheel-mounted controls
Unless they can’t avoid it, a motorist’s hands shouldn’t really be anywhere but on the steering wheel.
Taking a hand off the wheel to fiddle with a touchscreen isn’t ideal, at the expense of safety and the driver’s attention, so sticking whatever controls on the steering wheel is arguably the best way around this.
We’ve seen some absolute horror shows in the past though when car makers have tried this, most notably in older generations of the Citroen C4 and Ford Focus; it’s an art form to make it function whilst retaining satisfying form.
Many people aren’t very good at parking, and if avoiding dinks and scratches on our cars means they have to come with a little beeper to tell us we’re getting too close to other vehicles, then so be it.
Autonomous emergency braking
Car safety technology is getting cleverer and if any new has any hope of securing a five-star crash test rating from Euro NCAP, it will come with autonomous emergency braking (or AEB for short).
These systems comprise various sensors and radars to monitor the road ahead. If they anticipate a collision, they’ll slam on the brakes. Very clever and quite literally a lifesaver.
Which features can you simply not do without? Tell us down there in the comments.