AA Buyer's Guide: Five must-see features on new cars
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New car technology is continuing to surprise us. From advanced safety aids to convenience features, manufacturers are constantly adapting and pushing the boundaries.
Here five great features that are a must-see when considering your next new car.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Mobile phones have had personal assistants like Siri or Alexa for a number of years, and now you can have a virtual on-board assistant in your car.
Just mention the key word “Hey (insert car name)” and your car infotainment system comes to life, ready to execute your command. And no, you don’t have to speak in a weird accent in the hope that your car understands you.
You can ask the car to turn up the heat, change the music source, or navigate you to the closest McDonalds. Using AI technology, this system will adapt to recognise your voice and driving behaviours, and even make some suggestions based on regular behaviour. It will also offer you route changes on the fly if traffic is congested and update you if there is an incident.
In some instances, you can even give your car a name, say commands like “I’m cold” to turn the heating on and ask the car to tell you a joke.
Wireless phone charging
Have you ever jumped into your car and realised that your phone is almost out of battery, and to make matters worse you haven’t brought the correct cable along with you?
Many of today’s modern smartphones are now equipped with wireless charging capabilities. This technology is also finding its way into many new models on sale, and it is not only reserved for the most expensive models either - take the entry level VW T-Cross SUV for example.
These integrated wireless charging pads are typically located somewhere on the centre console and are either flat with a recess to secure the phone, or sometimes in an upright slot with a suspension mechanism to clench the device firmly against the wireless charging pad.
Safety Exit Assist
Safety Exit Assist utilises the Blind Spot Monitoring system to lock a rear door when it detects the approach of a vehicle from behind. This helps to stop a rear seat occupant leaving the vehicle when there isn’t a safe gap in traffic. This should also prevent cyclists being hit by open car doors.
Surround parking cameras
One piece of modern-car tech that’s bound to impress the kids is the 360-degree parking monitor (AKA bird’s eye, top-down, around or surround-view) that shows an impressive view from above the vehicle and what’s around it.
This view often has kids fascinated trying to work out how it’s achieved. The camera system works by collating together camera images from around the vehicle. These cameras are concealed in the grille, under the side mirrors and near the boot latch to provide a 360-degree view that is displayed on the car's infotainment screen.
Sometimes you can also change between each of these cameras to get a full-screen view of the individual camera, and using the touchscreen manipulate the perspective as if you were controlling a camera operated drone above the vehicle.
Have you ever been talking to someone in the back seat and had to speak louder than you normally would due to engine or road noise?
Instead of having to raise your voice to be heard by occupants in the back rows of bigger cars, this system allows you to have concise, quieter conversations with the passengers behind you. It also lets you keep your eyes on the road instead of dangerously turning around. We recently experienced this type of system – named Driver Talk - first hand in the Hyundai Palisade.
It’s a lot like a PA system in an aeroplane, and while it may sound like a lavish accessory, it’s an incredibly practical one, especially for families on road trips.