The most useless features in cars of today
A modern day car is a tech savvy piece of metal. And every passing year even the most mundane car is increasingly becoming savvier. Depending on what car you are in, you maybe spoilt with simple things like bluetooth telephony and steering mounted controls that do away with the need to taking your hands away from the steering wheel, to sophisticated systems like seat masseurs and Wifi hotspot that can transform your car into a spa or an office space respectively.
Not all the features available in cars however, are as practical especially in a country like India, which is still in its infancy of motoring revolution. Here are some that make little sense in our cars.
These headlamps sense the general direction of the car and effectively illuminate the road ahead when taking corners. In that process though, it creates a blind spot of the road right in front. The sharper the corner, the more pronounced the blind spot. In Europe or US, that is hardly a problem because the roads are good and there is no worry of a pothole just ahead. In India, it is just the opposite and there are roads that are riddled with craters. Cornering on such roads with these headlamps is a pain. Thankfully, there is an option to deactivate it but if you are not going to use this feature anyway, why have it at all.
Run Flat Tyres
Many luxury cars in India today run on run-flat tyres. These tyres do away with the need of a spare wheel as the car can run upto 200 kilomteres and at speeds of 80 kph even when a tyre goes flat. The lack of a spare wheel has two benefits. It increases the boot space and reduces the weight of the vehicle thus inflating its fuel economy and deflating its carbon footprint. On Indian roads though, run flats are big irritants. Not very often do the tyres simply go flat. Most of the times, they go bust thanks to our impeccable road conditions. And in such cases you are left stranded on the highway and possibly in a BMW that cannot even be fixed by your friendly road side ‘pencher wala.’ What it leads to, is a harrowing day ahead. After paying so much money for a car, can we get a proper spare tyre please?
Small car owners won’t even know what this is but a lot of premium sedans and SUVs that have their genesis in Europe have it. These are fans embedded deep in your seat, which when turned on warms it up in freezing temperatures. It is a boon if you stay in frost ridden Scandinavia. But in the muggy heat of Mumbai or Kolkata or the dead summer of Delhi, even the thought of seat warmers is ridiculous. And, it costs money that could be easily saved.
It is self explanatory what this does. Sets the speed of the car at a desired level in automatic transmission and all you need to do is steer the car. The cruise mode is deactivated with a slight tap on the brake pedal. It works like a charm on the Autobahns or the long freeways of US. In the start stop traffic of India, it is something that is so rarely used it is almost redundant.
Simply because it lights up something that is not good for health. Driving in India itself is hazardous. In a car there is no scope for something that is even more lethal.
Paddle Shift gears
These are Formula 1 type gears available in automatic transmission cars that are placed just behind the steering wheel. It allows the flexibility of changing gears on the manual mode by just a click on the left side to upshift and on the right to downshift. It adds a bit of premium sporty feel to the car and keeps the driver in command enabling him to revv the car to the limit on every gear. However, most consumers buy automatic cars for the convenience of not having to change gears and paddle shifts are left unused. Also, this feature is mostly available on premium sedans that are generally bought by those who have chauffeurs. Chauffeurs by nature are not the sporty types.
In exotic placid countries, a sun roof can be a boon. Open it up on a cloudy day, pop your head up and you can literally let your hair down. Or hit the highway on the first sunny day after a long dark dreary winter and you can soak up all the calcium. In India though, you are better advised to keep it closed. Not only is the sun harsh and unforgiving, the dusty nature of the countryside means you will end up with a thick layer on your face. The damage to your hair could be more irreversible. Further there is an added threat of attracting unnecessary attention on the road. Much the same way as a convertible, a sun roof does not make sense in India.
Daytime running lights
Many countries are quite deficient of sunlight even during peak summers. The weather is perennially dark and cloudy and visibility is poor. Daytime running lights come in handy to detect speeding vehicles from afar. In fact in some countries it is even mandatory. It has been lapped up in India as well. It became a signature for Audi and played a big role in the German carmaker’s success here. It is also no longer restricted to the domain of premium cars as well with small cars like the Hyundai i20 sporting it too. But is it practical or necessary? Instead, DRLs confuse ignorant passerbys liable to point out that your headlamps are still on. Beyond cosmetic enhancement, DRLs have little use in India.