- We identify the must-have features for your next company car
- All make living with your company car more convenient
- Some make it safer and help you to avoid costly bills
Cars become more technology-laden with the introduction of each new model.
While some of these new-fangled technologies feel like an episode of Tomorrow’s World, there remains a question mark over whether you should opt for some them on your next company car.
Is it going to be a feature you use regularly and which will improve your life on the road or will it drive up your P11d value unnecessarily? Some manufacturers already create models specifically targeted at company car drivers which are pre-loaded with features.
Changing the colour of the interior mood lighting might while away lost minutes stuck at traffic lights but how else will it benefit you? Night vision, on the other hand, improves safety and looks incredibly cool on the dashboard display, but can you really justify its hefty four-figure cost?
Sifting through an enormous array of options on online configurators can be bewildering. So we've saved you the hassle and identified the top 10 features you should specify to make living with your next company car even easier.
1. Keyless entry and start
What is it? Unlock, start and re-lock the car without using the key.
Why have it? Grab the car door handle to unlock it, press a button to stop and start the engine and touch the exterior handle again to re-lock the car. It sounds gimmicky, but its surprisingly useful. You can even open the boot on some by waggling your foot under the rear bumper. Picture walking to the car, arms full of paperwork and an overnight bag in heavy rain. You just want to get into the dry, not fumble around for the keys in your pocket or handbag. Hassle instantly reduced.
2. Bluetooth connectivity
What is it? Make calls safely without touching your phone.
Why have it? There’s a good argument that Bluetooth connectivity for mobile phones should be a legally required feature on every new car, but we’re not there yet. Simply put, once connected to your phone, the car’s dashboard buttons take over the control of your device allowing you to accept and reject calls and scroll through your contacts list to make calls yourself. Some systems even read aloud your text messages to you.
What is it? Sophisticated, active guidance to your destination.
Why have it? Things have come a long way in the 20 years since built-in sat-navs first appeared. Now they monitor traffic situations giving alternative routes to avoid congestion, as well as displaying what you will actually see on the overhead signs and showing you which lane to choose. Cutting-edge systems even use satellite imagery instead of graphics for the maps. Ultimately, you are much more likely to arrive at your appointments on time without being stressed by getting lost.
4. Digital in-car audio
What is it? Crisp music and audio from the airwaves or your portable device.
Why have it? With analogue signals for regional and national stations being switched off in coming years, Digital Audio Broadcasting (DAB) radio offers a higher quality service. Digital audio can also come by way of our MP3 players, iPods and smartphones, so ensure your next car either comes with a docking point, connecting wires or that it will stream audio through the Bluetooth connection.
5. Cruise control
What is it? Sets your car to your chosen speed.
Why have it? Fundamentally, cruise control can help protect your licence when you set your car to the specific speed limit for any stretch of road. Additionally, radar guidance is worth considering too: this automatically monitors the gap to the vehicle in front, slowing you down and accelerating you back to your desired speed as the distance to the vehicle in front varies. Some systems will even take you down to a complete stop without you touching the pedals.
6. Lane departure warning
What is it? Warns you if you are crossing lanes unintentionally.
Why have it? After a few hours behind the wheel, it’s advisable to take a break. One sign you might be tired is drifting across motorway lanes unintentionally. Cars equipped with lane departure systems monitor the road lines and if you appear to be changing lanes without indicating, a warning occurs, typically a beep or a vibration through the wheel or seat. Such systems also encourage those who don’t use their indicators to do so, further improving safety.
7. Blind spot warning
What is it? Warns you if a car is in your blind spot that you may not have noticed.
Why have it? Arguably, if we’re concentrating while driving and watching our mirrors, this system shouldn’t be needed, but lapses occur. It’s surprisingly easy to attempt a motorway overtake only to find someone about to enter the same space on the road. Blind spot monitors alert you of impending vehicles’ arrivals by flashing a signal on or near the door mirrors, turning off again when the lane is clear.
8. Parking assistance
What is it? Audible and visual warnings of obstacles in your car’s path.
Why have it? Forget puerile insinuations that parking sensors and cameras indicate you don’t know how to drive or park. This is much more about protecting your car, and your wallet, from the expense of having bumpers and other panels repaired and repainted. Self-parking systems take this a stage further with the car squeezing itself into tight spaces you might otherwise overlook, a boon when attending meetings in busy city centres.
9. Emergency city braking
What is it? Car brakes itself if its systems detect a frontal collision is likely.
Why have it? What might sound like over-nannying actually significantly reduces the chances of you suffering a dangerous and expensive frontal impact. As you drive normally on urban routes you find another vehicle or even a pedestrian unexpectedly crosses your path. Cameras monitoring the road don’t take time to assess the potential danger and consequently react much quicker than a driver could. If the impact isn’t totally avoided the speed, and subsequent damage, is substantially reduced.
10. Climate control
What is it? Keeps yourself and passengers at an optimum temperature.
Why have it? Air-conditioning has been standard in most cars for some time but zoned climate control, allowing you to set precise temperatures and air flow for different areas of the car is often the preserve of expensive versions in the range. Tick the box too for seats that are not only heated but also blow chilled air through perforations in the seat to arrive at meetings totally relaxed.