What frustrates you in a car? What really gets on your nerves? Chances are, as much as we love our cars, there’s something we aren’t too keen on. Seeing as we’ve explored the best car features, we thought we’d take a look at the worst.
The 15 worst car features
Fake exhausts and exhaust trims
Fake exhausts. We hate them. Whether it’s an actual fake exhaust tip behind which the real pipe emerges, or a moulded, exhaust surround-shaped piece of chrome that’s blanked off with the real pipe somewhere else, they’re all terrible. Burn them. Burn them with fire for all eternity.
This isn’t the worst of worst car features, but hatch windows are mighty annoying. They might let some hot air out of the cabin but they sure as anything don’t let much cool air in. They’re fiddly too, and strike as a feature that’s only there either to save money or because no one could be bothered to engineer a proper window into the space provided.
Occasionally voice recognition works (see Polestar and Google). Most of the time, however, you will politely speak a command and either hear nothing in return or be treated to something entirely different to what you requested. You then run through the process of saying the same phrase in a different accent or at a slower pace with greater enunciation. You’ll then try and try again, desperately hoping the anger and aggression doesn’t emerge in your voice. You then give up and change radio station yourself. Pointless.
Gesture controls are entirely unnecessary, a gimmick that serves as a talking point and nothing more. Why? Because you can swipe left or right with a touchscreen – there’s simply no need to wave your arms around like a complete fool.
Screens that aren’t touch sensitive
“Let me just connect a Bluetooth devi- wait, what?” We’re so used to touchscreens in our cars nowadays that when a screen is just that, and there’s a little wheel or pad somewhere else to connect to Bluetooth or change the radio station, it’s a little confusing. Not world ending, just irksome. Let’s just make all screens finger-sensitive, agreed?
Low-res reversing cameras
High-quality reversing camera are not hugely expensive today. In fact you’ll find plenty of dinky city cars with seriously high-resolution parking cameras. Sadly there are far too many around that give you a world view that, surely, must be being beamed up to space and back down again. A car that’s crimes are particularly heinous is the Honda NSX. You’d think that a car costing more than £150,000 would have a decent camera system? Alas, sadly not. If you’ve ever wondered what life would look like through a thin slice of potato, the reversing camera in the NSX serves up a like-for-like offering.
Social media integration
This is a pretty simple one and, mercifully, something that not many cars offer yet. But social media does not belong in a car. We do not want to scroll through Facebook or Instagram. I do not want to Tweet and I most certainly do not want to see an influencer in my car. We get enough notifications from our phones, and hear plenty about how social media can have a negative impact on our mental health – the last thing anyone needs is another place, often somewhere of relative tranquillity and isolation, where we’re pinged with notifications.
Tiny cup and bottle holders
Companies spend billions on car R&D and tiny cup holders still exist. A small cupholder might mean an unstable latte, while a door bin that is incapable of swallowing a water bottle is pointless.
There’s nothing like the freedom of the open road. Just you and a car, in harmony. And then the car tries to send you off the road and in to the scenery. Ah, the joys of lane-keep assist. There are benefits to these systems on a long, fairly straight and featureless road, but the trouble starts when they’re activated from the moment you turn your car on and stay that way until you pile through its various menus to turn them off. On normal A or B roads, it’s a menace.
Haptic controls replacing buttons
As cars have become more complicated the need for more controls has, quite naturally, grown. The result was button clutter – one look at the interior of a first-gen Porsche Cayenne and you’ll know what we’re on about. Gradually buttons removed, their functionality shimmied over to a car’s touchscreen infotainment system. That in itself is annoying and in some cases dangerous, as we have said here before. But now manufacturers are taking it one step further and replacing physical buttons with haptic feedback controls and they are, quite simply, not as good. They’re an example of trying to fix what isn’t broken, and the result is a control that requires your attention to use because you cannot feel where it is, as you can with a physical, real-life button. It’s a trend we sincerely hope stops very soon.
Square steering wheels
You know the phrase ‘reinvent the wheel’? That is quite literally what some auto makers are doing, and there’s really no reason for it at all. Wheels with corners feel odd, and they’re often quite ugly, too. And don’t get us started on Tesla’s new wheel. What a yoke*…
*Our sincere apologies.
Constant Variable Transmissions, or CVTs for short, are technically very interesting and they absolutely have their uses, but to use they are mighty unpleasant. Fitted to hybrids in particular but also a number of internal combustion-engined cars, they often bring with them a drone so unspeakably bad that they alone can turn what would be a fine car otherwise into something completely undesirable.
You’re a passenger in a car, cruising down the motorway, and you’re asked to put some music on, so naturally you go to connect your phone to the Bluetooth system. Your car then tells you that such systems can only be completed while the car is stationary and out of gear. Convenient, wouldn’t you say?
The thinking behind run flat tyres is brilliant. Reinforced tyre sidewalls mean that in the event of a puncture you can continue driving until it can be replaced, albeit for a limited mileage and at a limited speed (often from 30 to 50 miles at 50mph). The trouble is they often lead to a firmer and less forgiving ride, not to mention more tyre roar. Tyre inflation foam is a pain to use, but at least it only causes annoyance when you get a puncture rather than year-round noise and discomfort.
Why though? Why are there fake grilles and vents on so many modern vehicles? The answer is, of course, because style over substance matters more when you’re trying to garner greater kerb appeal. But to us, a fake grille or vent does the exact opposite.
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