- Which gadgets should you look for on your next car?
- These five are designed to make driving easier
- Make your fleet manager happy with lower bills
With smartphones in our pockets containing technology that would have filled a suitcase ten years ago, it seems the world is going smart-this and i-that mad. Even the humble toaster has more computing power than the first manned moon mission. Probably.
As we become ever more tech-savvy, it’s unsurprising that our cars are becoming laden with more gadgets and gizmos to help make life on the road a little easier.
So which of the vast range of features and options available do we think are the ones to go for? Check out our top five must-have features for company car drivers – how many will be fitted to your next car?
Adaptive cruise control
What is it? Governs your speed taking into account speed of other vehicles.
Why have it? You’re already familiar with the licence protecting potential of cruise control but the adaptive element takes it a stage further. Set your desired speed and the car monitors a pre-determined time gap to the vehicle in front. Should you catch up with it, or someone cuts in front of you, the car slows down and in many cases even brakes for you, down to a standstill, all without you touching the pedals.
What is it? Safely make calls without touching your phone.
Why have it? Many think there’s a strong case for Bluetooth connectivity to be standardised on every car sold, but we’re some way from the legislators agreeing to that. The better systems link directly to the car’s infotainment screen allowing you to not only accept and reject calls but also scroll through your virtual phone book and recent calls lists. Some systems, such as Ford’s Sync, take it to the next level and read out your text messages too.
Collision mitigation systems
What is it? On-board monitors actively try to prevent crashes occurring.
Why have it? It’s true that some drivers don’t like systems like this because they feel as though the car is nannying them. The reality is once you’ve learned the nuances of the car’s way of working the benefits outweigh that Big Brother factor. Cameras constantly watch the road ahead looking for other road users, pedestrians and, in some cases, larger animals. At urban speeds the goal is to stop the car before an accident but at higher ones to reduce the collision speed. Not only is your car less likely to be damaged as a result, insurance premiums tend to be lower for cars equipped with such technology.
Digital in-car audio
What is it? Play music and audio directly from your smartphone, airwaves or mobile internet connection.
Why have it? Analogue radio signals are gradually being switched off and broadcasters moving towards DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting), providing sharper reception and greater clarity, especially over existing AM stations. Using your phone’s Bluetooth connectivity, audio can also be streamed wirelessly to the stereo system or, with the appropriate apps and 3G or 4G connection, played directly from services such as Spotify.
What is it? Let the car take the strain and park itself.
Why have it? Building upon existing features that are now commonplace like parking sensors and cameras, self-park functions do exactly that – press the appropriate button and the car does its thing. Some systems work for both reverse-into-bay parking and parallel parking, others only one or the other. A few may point to such systems as reducing the driver’s skill set but most fleet managers would prefer to have their cars free from scraped bumper corners and other costly repairs.