Our take on the following five things that we’re testing in new cars is completely subjective. Some are required by law, others do not work entirely to help the average driver in any way or to actually benefit the crew.
Cameras instead of mirrors
Cars like the Lexus ES, Audi e-tron or Honda e cameras have cameras instead of mirrors for aerodynamics and the obvious interest of fans of modern technology. Small segments terminated by a camera transmit the image to the screens inside.
Testing digital mirrors in Lexus ES
The screens provide a wider view of the surroundings, they have a better picture at dusk or in darkness and rain. But that’s where the benefits end. You’ll get used to looking inside rather than outside in a matter of days. However, a poorer orientation in space and in specific solutions, such as low screens at Audi or lousy picture resolution at Lexus, bothers me.
Despite the high aerodynamic demands and lower standardized emissions or higher range of electric cars that result, we don’t foresee a mass future for this element. However, we can certainly be wrong in today’s turbulent automotive world.
Voice control instead of buttons
It is the only piece of equipment that does not automatically hamper the driver, but we consider it unnecessary in many cases. Voice control is associated with the global phenomenon of converting car interiors into mobile tablets full of tactile surfaces.
Voice command is an alternative to basic command control, according to car manufacturers. But often it doesn’t work the way we want it to.
Over time, many cars have already learned Czech, and some premium cars already include phrases similar to a normal call. But often cars want loud and very semi-pathetic instructions, which also have to be specified and approved several times.
Thus, voice instructions can hardly be a useful alternative to circular ventilation control or a simple seat heating button. So if you agree that you will talk to the car …
Already, the Citroën C4 Cactus was trying to bypass the expensive electric sliding screens of the panoramic sunroof with technology that darkens the glass in the sun. But like the fourth generation Škoda Fabia, it seems like it’s more of a compromise solution.
For example, in the new Škoda Fabia, the sunroof does not have a screen.
Photo: Skoda Auto
The glass remains too dark for lovers of bright interiors, even on a slightly cloudy day, on the other hand, for those who cannot stand the sun, the screen is not thick enough. Also due to the really scorching days and parking in the sun. That is why Škoda has also included a manual shutter in the accessories, which can be snapped in to shade the interior.
Skylights are therefore better which let in completely or not the light inside. Nevertheless, they remain a risk factor, especially for used cars. We like the light and the sky above, but especially the version with an opening mechanism brings the weight to the worst part of the body, so that they increase the center of gravity. They can also leak and cause noise at higher speeds.
Continue to ride in the tracks
Today, the system most often uses cameras behind the interior rearview mirror to detect lanes and warn the driver if such a lane crosses without flashing. In the beginning, a good useful system, which is inconvenient, even dangerous, in actual operation.
Lane Keeping Assistant
Photo: Skoda Auto
There are several levels of intelligence for such a device, but the vast majority still do not recognize yellow lines in the choke, faded lines, more used, or even confuse a joint in the asphalt with the line.
The passive system warns the driver with vibration in the steering wheel, a tone or other signal, but the active version directly interferes with the steering. In the aforementioned narrowing or on narrow district roads, he then gets behind the wheel or drives the car in dangerous situations.
This element first spread to new cars, including standard equipment in the cheaper segments, as it was an important part of the Euro NCAP safety assessment.
As of 2019, it’s mandatory for newly manufactured cars, so the fact that we wouldn’t want it in the car is just a call away for this article. During testing, we often deal with the ease with which car manufacturers are ready to make shutdown such a system available, which, after starting, often reactivates.
However, lane keeping is warranted as part of a semi-autonomous driving package, provided it is modern enough to keep the car in the middle of the lane. This, over long distances in combination with intelligent adaptive cruise control that maintains distance to the vehicle in front, can save the driver, who of course always has to be careful and touch the steering wheel.
Already at the start of the last decade, longitudinal and transverse parking aids began to appear in the general public segment. This item can use parking sensors and electric power steering to guide the car among parked vehicles.
Whether the driver is always careful is monitored by car manufacturers in different ways, sometimes for example you have to hold down the appropriate button until the maneuver is complete.
Again, the systems get better with each generation, but in practice we will try this wizard for each car just because of the nature of our business, but we will never use it again. Despite acceleration, it is often a long process where the car has to measure its space and force the driver to respond to instructions.
Meanwhile, a column forms behind you and you will only wonder if you haven’t been alone in a row for a long time, considering all the cameras and sensors. Plus, the computer doesn’t dare to make those really tight maneuvers, which are a challenge even for experienced drivers.
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