Best and worst aspects of modern cars

Best and worst aspects of modern cars

Our guide to the best and worst aspects of modern cars.

Best and worst aspects of modern cars

Best and worst aspects of modern cars – Behind the Wheel’s Chris Miller hates electric park brakes.

We asked some of our writers at Behind the Wheel their opinion on the best and worst aspects of current cars on the market. Their answers are quite varied, sometimes surprising and very interesting.

Joel Helmes

The Good Things

Bluetooth® audio streaming – To be able to magically transfer your music (or Behind the Wheel podcasts) from your phone onto your car’s stereo system is amazing technology. I come from a time when, if you wanted to listen to something other than the radio, you had to cart around cassette tapes while CD players often skipped when you hit a bump. And both didn’t deal well with the heat. Bluetooth® is more convenient and heat resistant!

Head-up display – You can monitor your speed and even get important information beamed straight up in front of your eyes on the windscreen without the need to look away. Simple and effective with real safety advantages and should be mandatory in every car.

Push-button ignition – Once you have a car with push-button ignition it’s really hard to go back to a traditional key turning ignition system. A convenient technology that allows the driver to leave their car key in their pocket or handbag making life a whole lot easier.

The Bad Things

Diesel engine grades – So you need a diesel engine because you want to save fuel? Sorry, you can’t have it in the base model, you’ll have to step up to the top of the range which could mean a difference of more than $10,000. Car manufacturers have to make money, but making diesel engines only available in premium models seems like railroading to me.

Small seats – While I’m not particularly tall, there are cars I get into that make me realise straight away that the designer probably had a different body shape to mine. This makes for a somewhat uncomfortable drive especially when they lack under-thigh support.

Setting retention – By this I mean cars that don’t retain their settings when switched off such as climate control or engine settings. Some cars revert back to the fresh air setting while others turn off Eco mode. Whichever way I had my settings last is how I want them this time!

Chris Miller

The Good Things

Turbo – The rise of the turbo in recent years has transformed small capacity four cylinder engines (<2.0L), into power plants capable of delivering V8 style power while consuming miserly amounts of fuel. A remarkable achievement.

Electric engines – Whether they be in the form of a hybrid system, or a fully electric motor, emerging electric tech is something I know we’ll see a lot more of. It’s an incredible achievement and easier on the environment. Electric is undoubtedly the way of the future.

The Bad Things

Electric park brake – I hate them. They take away the feel and ability to adjust the brake to suit the moment. What is wrong with a manual handbrake? Completely unnecessary.

Adaptive cruise control  – Whilst in theory it’s a great technology, it’s still a work in progress. Some cars are too sensitive to other cars around them. I’ve been caught on a couple of occasions on the freeway where a vehicle has merged in front of me and my car slams on the brakes. Not the best thing with other cars following behind at 100kph.

Voice control – I am yet to find a system that works properly, without fault. Give a voice command like “…find the nearest petrol station…” and instead you’re met with “Call Jane??”. Infuriating and not worth the effort!

Peter Hitchener

The Good Things

Safety features – Electronic safety features like reversing cameras, parking sensors, lane departure warning, are my favourite thing about cars these days. One of the best and unique is the blind spot camera on the Honda HR-V and CR-V, that triggers an image on the centre display of the side of the car when you switch the left indicator. You can tell at a glance whether a cyclist or car is passing you on the left of the car.

Driving comfort – Cars are more comfortable to drive than ever. Just drive a car 10 or 15 years old and compare. Acceleration, braking, steering, fuel efficiency and even the turning circle have all been vastly improved in recent years.

The Bad Things

Electronics – Cars nowadays are too reliant on complex electronics, computers and kilometres of electrical wiring. If a fault develops somewhere in the loom, good luck locating it! While electronics have their benefits, it can be costly and dangerous.

Space-saver tyre – Emergency tyres are put in place to save weight and fuel and for ‘limp-home-mode’ but can be a useless nuisance. One I used recently was faulty and would not inflate. Consequently, my car had to be towed and I was without transport for 15 hours! A regular spare tyre could be easily be pumped up even if it was flat.

Simon Lai

The Good Things

Technology – The level and array of technological features installed in cars for safety, comfort and convenience is truly astounding. Things that my father’s generation never dreamed of are a reality like temperature controlled and powered seats, keyless entry, auto everything, satnav, parking assist etc. The future is here.

Safety – For a long time, the limit of car safety used to be the seatbelt. Both active (ABS, ESC, TCS) and passive (airbags) safety features are a pretty standard affair now and combined with numerous sensors and cameras give the majority of cars 5 Star ratings making them safer than ever before.

Standard features – Simple things that were considered a luxury not all that long ago, like electric windows and steering wheel controls, are now a normal part of the switchgear. Even sound quality is so good in all cars, gone are the days where fussy audiophiles (like me) needed to swap out the factory stereo for an after-market head unit and better speakers.

The Bad Things

No training – I come from a generation that grew up alongside technology so learning and adapting is easy but this isn’t the case for everyone. Owners need training on the features to get the most out their car and for their own safety especially given the tremendous amount of advanced tech features installed today. Most are flying blind with no guidance or awareness that certain features exists.

Sunroof – Why is that a sunroof/panoramic roof is always a standard inclusion in the top of the range model? You splurge a bit more and suddenly you do more stargazing or indoor sunbathing. I’d just like to have all the bells and whistles but with more headroom and a solid roof thanks.

Beeping – Oh the dreaded beeps. *beep* With more technology and safety comes more notifications. Put on your seat-belt. *beep* Look out behind. *beep* You’re too close to an object. *beep* You’re leaving your lane. *beep* And some models are over-vigilant or incessant. *beep*beep*beeeep* Argh, make it stop!!

Agree or disagree? Let us know below, or email [email protected]

About the author

Simon Lai

Simon is a writer and sometime contributor to the podcast. He also takes care of video production and product reviews. He met Joel through radio school and has worked with him on other ventures, reading news, producing and presenting radio content for regional networks. Simon doesn’t profess to be a car nut but enjoys driving first and foremost and has a penchant for hot hatches. He helps to provide the everyday-man perspective.

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