Just think about all the exciting extras available on new cars these days. Individual micro-climates, sensors that can see in the dark, sensors that let you doze off on straight bits of road knowing the car can stop by itself, eyes in the back of the boot that say ‘don’t you try and follow me’ – the list is endless. Pretty soon you, the driver, will become superfluous to requirements. You’ll go out to the garage only to find the car has gone out and left you a note. There is a warning here for anyone who likes driving – how long before you cease to be a driver and become a mere attendant?
Innovation is a good thing but at what price? Try to organise a drive in an old classic car, one that has a front engine, rear wheel drive layout and doesn’t have any of the modern devices. This will bring back memories of what it feels like to be in control of machinery and remind you of what driving is about. In the same way that digital cameras have ruined the art of photography so modern cars have taken all the fun and excitement out of driving.
Automotive technology is moving at a pace quick enough to make your ears pop. Car companies seem to be always trying to outdo each other by constantly adding new bells and whistles and 2012 is likely to see more of the same. The rate of progress has been phenomenal but, as ever, the more you get, the more expensive things become. Some of the latest city cars however, as befits their price range, are bereft of gadgetry. You’d probably have to buy the top of the range model just to get basic air-conditioning. Even split folding rear seats are optional! As the price goes up so the number of toys increases. One of the best of the latest innovations has got to be Bluetooth. At the press of a button your caller’s voice will boom out around the multi-speakers. It’s a bit like talking to some omnipotent god. Sad cases who still break the law and use their mobiles on the go need to realise that for as little as £20 they can buy a visor fit, battery operated Bluetooth set that will sync, and work perfectly with, any of the latest phones. It would help save on fines. But you don’t have to fork out a fortune to get the top toys. That everyman car the Ford Focus is one of the most competent, technically advanced vehicles on tarmac today. The thing nearly drives itself. Adaptive cruise control systems, front mounted cameras and electronically controlled steering that knows when you are veering out of lane all add up to one of the most technically accomplished cars on the road – and at consumer prices.
Technology is great but does it ultimately ruin driving pleasure? Unfortunately, the answer must be a yes. On the plus side, some manufacturers now make their own perfumes and aftershave, so why not buy yourself a classic Italian sports car and splash the great smell of Ferrari all over? Those where the good old days!