I was reading a review of a BMW 335i Convertible at The Truth About Cars the the following passage stuck out to me:
Exploring the gizmology, I became convinced that Bimmer’s boffins have decided to make it as difficult as possible to make adjustments, so that iDrive seems better by default. For example, I wanted to adjust the turn signal so that it winked thrice when lightly touched. The manual doesn’t explain this procedure, so I will.
First, the vehicle must be running but not in motion. Next, push down twice on the toggle switch located on the front of the turn signal stalk. Then engage another switch at the tip of this same stalk. Flip the first switch five times and the one at the tip once. Flip the first switch once and then the one at the tip again and be quick about it; if you take more than eight seconds, it reverts back to the original display and setting. Done.
There’s a couple of things that stick out here. First, this guy actually thought about it enough to want his turn signal to blink three times when lightly touched?! Who thinks that? And why haven’t they got more important things to think about?
My brother-in-law used to be the service manager for a Porsche dealer in Vancouver and he actually had a customer come in once and complain that one seat had more stitches than the other. People like this should not be allowed to own cars like that, although maybe it’s because they’re like this that they get to, but I digress….
I’d make a case that no-one actually needs to be able to program their indicators in this way, and the fact that they can is just another thing that can go wrong.
Whenever I’ve test driven a modern Saab, the most useless item I’ve found are the rain-sensing wipers. What I find is that when a feature like this is present, I become way more conscious of it. This annoys me for two reasons:
1) It distracts me from the pleasure of driving the car. I’m thinking more about the wipers than I am about the handling, for instance.
2) I’m distracted because I see a few spots of rain, I’ve done whatever the heck it was I thought I needed to do to get these puppies working and……..they’re not working when I want them to.
The BMW article above also mentions iDrive, which I haven’t used, but which I’ve heard plenty of negative things about.
Are car companies making things more and more complex just becuase they can?
Would you rather have a car that comes with just the essentials (great engine, gearbox, handling and basic entertainers, comforts and essential safety equipment) or do you need sixteen speakers, satnav, rear cameras, blindspot indicators, compass, garage door opener, recording devices, changeable engine mapping, programmable seats, indicators & heardrests and a myriad of other features that people tell us we need?
I love driving a modern car, but I also loved my 99Turbo, which brings back memories of me, a steering wheel and a turbocharger. Nothing else mattered.
What do we need, and what do we not need? What are the most useless features being offered by Saab or by anyone else. If car companies want to trim some costs, maybe cutting down on useless items is a way they can do it.