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It's all a load of bollocks, quite frankly

A car that can drive itself and double up as a housewife? That’s crazy talk…

I’ve hidden it well, but as it transpires I am a car enthusiast. A petrolhead. I like nothing more than a beautifully styled, excellent handling car with a big powerful engine. I like to be involved in driving the vehicle and detest stupid options. My ramblings today centre around some of the most absurd options you can specify in a car on sale today.

For example, John Cockfuss, the sales rep for your local company that needs a sales rep can specify his [insert cliché German executive saloon car] with tyre pressure sensors. Oh yes, a sensor within the tyre that sends a signal to the dashboard to let you know if your tyre is flat. Now I have a problem with this. Firstly, the best way to tell if a tyre is flat is to look at it. And if you’re worth your salt as a driver, you should know through the feel of the car if you have a problem with a tyre. Secondly, they are expensive to replace. On certain vehicles, if you need to replace one, you have to replace a set. Which will set you back over £1,000. That’s added to £500 or so it cost initially to have the stupid things added to rep machine in the first place. Seriously, get a 20p piece, go to your local garage and check your tyre pressures every fortnight. It’s a damn site cheaper.

Automatic headlights and wipers are also a cause for concern for me. Concern because if you specify either of these options on your new vehicle, you are basically admitting that you are too stupid to drive. No, really you are. If you cannot see how dark it is to turn on your own headlights and cannot see how wet it is to turn on your own wipers, you need your driving licence rescinded. Quickly. Stick to public transport and do the rest of us a favour. If you really do want automatic headlights and wipers but don’t want to admit you’re stupid, buy a French car. They won’t work properly anyway.

Whilst we’re speaking of French cars, Peugeot Citroen PSA Group cars tend to feature a rather nasty air freshener on the dashboard which rather like a glad spurts blasts of fresh scent into the air. Well, they say fresh scent, more like a rancid aroma more akin to a French factory worker’s sweat gland. Moving to German cars, the new Audi A1 (which looks like an Austin Allegro in side profile) comes with an option called ‘wasabi green air vent sleeves’. What the fuck??? Are you serious?

I’m not a big fan of Bluetooth in cars either. Yes, it is useful for the aforementioned Mr Cockfuss the sales rep with no general purpose. But most of the systems seem to be troublesome and are not compatible with other car manufacturers. Whether Mr Cockfuss could find a use for Volvo’s grocery bag holder (a £105 option!!) remains to be seen.

What also seems to be happening is all the driver aids and driving “modes” appearing in cheaper cars. Some driver aids I do like such as anti-lock brakes – if you’ve done an emergency stop in a car that hasn’t got it and a car that has you’ll know what I mean. In the Alfa Romeo Mito and Giulietta you have the DNA system. It means Dynamic, Normal and All Weather. To me it is nothing more than a marketing gimmick and if anything holds the car back. Normal mode is next to useless and the performance is flat, All Weather is useless unless you’re in the snow. Ditch these two settings and have the car set up properly for optimum driving like in Dynamic mode ALL THE BLOODY TIME! If you want to drive your car in snow, buy a fucking Land Rover. Even something as lowly as a Fiat Panda 100HP which sports nothing more than a basic 1.4 16v engine has a sport button on the dash to decrease power steering assistance and boost the torque and throttle response. I don’t want a button, I want the car to be like that all the time.

I also hate so-called Keyless Go entry systems because they are shite, basically. You don’t have locks on the outside, instead magic happens between the card and sensor in the door and hey presto you can enter the car! In some systems you can do this from a distance. Which means magic happens between your card and sensor in the door and hey presto someone else can enter your car! Renault had a system like this in the Meganes and Lagunas, but this system came equipped with a stick and a white flag. Tell me, what is wrong with putting the key in the ignition and turning it to start a car rather than fannying about with a fancy card system, waiting for it to load, then having to put your foot on the brake and/or clutch pedal then press a button? It’s utter bollocks I tell thee!

Electronic boot releases annoy the hell out of me aswell. For instance, on my Fiat Stilo, the electronic boot release, complete lighting system, wiper functions, radio system  and anti theft system amongst other things run through something called a body computer. Which is linked into a wiring system called CAN network. Now if anyone of these functions fail, it could be down to this particular device, which is about £600 to replace. When the car is 10 years old it won’t be viable for units like this to be replaced as it will outweigh the value of the car. Really, what is wrong with a button and lock on the boot, or the good old-fashioned cable and lever system on the floor?

Electric power steering is a fantastic fuel saving idea. Theoretically. The truth behind it is there is less feel and driver feedback through an electric set up than through a traditional hydraulic set up. It can also be a lot more costly to repair when it inevitably packs up. Some units alone can be in excess of £1500 to replace. I’m not saying hydraulic units are free from failure but generally work out a lot cheaper to repair.

Manual gearboxes with electronic clutch mechanisms (a cut price automatic, basically) do my nut in also. But I’ve written so much about that being fitted to ‘Er Indoors’ Corsa that I’m bored of that…

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April 5, 2011 - Posted by | Motoring, Rants

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