If you’ve ever had the opportunity to drive a brand new car, you’ll agree it’s a unique and fascinating experience. The smell of ‘new car’ is not a scent that can easily be replicated, and those cheap air fresheners don’t even come close. The increased number of various-sized cup holders, storage places to hold and charge your iPhone, and fancy coloured interior light strips are just some of the more recent inclusions taking us into the future.

Technology like push button start, keyless entry, self-opening boot or doors (Tesla) and more safety/assist acronyms you can poke a stick at. It all takes a while to get used to, the mind shift of adapting to ‘clever’, new technology. How daunting does it seem to trust a car to change motorway lanes automatically with just a flick of the indicator stalk? Or better still allowing an adaptive cruise control system to bring the car to a complete stop in heavy traffic and knowing it’s not going hit the vehicle in front.

We’re sure millennials won’t have any problem adapting or understanding computerised technology, and there are a few of us that may never see this technology in a vehicle we own. Besides, this technology is only reserved for high-end European vehicles over $200K… right?

It started that way. A top-spec E-Class Mercedes Benz practically changed lanes by itself, has 360deg cameras, infrared and radar systems, while the BMW 7-Series was one of the first vehicles in NZ that could move using the remote fob. However, slowly but surely driver assists like this are filtering down through the price range and across many vehicle manufacturers. Push-button start, adaptive cruise and autonomous braking (just to name a few) are features becoming commonplace in vehicles on show.

We recently borrowed a top-spec 2018 Subaru Legacy RS for a week. It had all the bells and whistles including ACC (Adaptive Cruise Control) VDC (Vehicle Dynamics Control) which includes Traction control, Stability control and Electronic Brake force distribution, and the list goes on.

The time came to drop off the Legacy… the remote is handed over and we pick up the bunch of keys that open the locks of normal life (and our aging Toyota). It now seems like extra effort to stick the key in the door, having to turn the lights on since there’s no ‘auto’ setting, and now to find the push start button… that’s right, we need that thing called a key again.

As we shift into reverse, the head goes out the window because the last thing we need is to smash into a nearby parked car. If only this (once modern) Toyota had proximity sensors and a reversing camera we’d come to love and trust.

One of the features we miss the most is Blind Spot Monitoring - changing motorway lanes was never so seamless. Maybe we’re just being lazy, but having that little amber light on the wing mirror certainly beats turning the head around for safe lane changes. 

Adaptive Cruise Control is another feature we’ve become accustomed to. In our mind, unless it’s adaptive, why bother at all. Braking, accelerating, adjusting the speed and in some cases, adjusting the wheel to keep inside the lane is not forgotten.

For the average motorist who’s yet to get behind a vehicle with modern technology, buckle up because you’re in for a treat.

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