Thursday, 15 November 2012

Top 10 New Car Gadgets

Many moons ago if your supermini came fitted with two wing mirrors and a stereo you were one of the lucky ones. Back then essentials such as ABS or Airbags were reserved for luxury cars costing a fortune. Today’s cars are very different and are all about gadgets and gizmos that either make life a little easier or are genuine safety solutions. This year we have road tested over 40 models from a variety of different manufacturers that have featured a wide range of different electronic gadgets. Some have been useful, others not so. If you are wondering what options to add to your next car, read on…

Satellite Navigation

Remember the days when a map was your only way to work out where you were going? I certainly do. Thankfully times have changed with the arrival of satellite navigation which features in many new cars. Systems used to send you all over the place including farmers’ fields and the wrong way down one way streets. The systems fitted to the cars we have tried have been much better and are integrated into the car better than an aftermarket device stuck onto the windscreen.

As seen on the Peugeot 208 Allure

Reversing Camera

It sounds silly, why would you want a camera mounted on the back of your car when parking. Well, these are a lot more useful than you would think especially as the majority of new cars have awful rearward visibility. The models we have tried with a reversing camera fitted also came with parking sensors and a neat grid on the screen giving the driver an idea of exactly how much room there is behind the car. It also makes parking in bays much easier as the edges of the lines can be lined up with the grid on the screen. Kia for example have even cleverly integrated the camera screen into the rear-view mirror.

As seen on the Kia Soul Hunter

Seatbelt Warning

Years ago seat belts were not standard, seems crazy now. Today every car has them but perhaps the hardest passengers to get to buckle up are small children who often think they are a toy to be played with. The majority of new cars have seat belt warning lights and bongs to help drivers ensure everyone on-board is safe. Many MPVs go one step further by offering an individual warning light for each seat, some of the time all seven seats. For parents ferrying kids around looking out for cars with this feature is a must.

As seen on the Peugeot 5008 Allure

Lane Departure Warning

Let’s face it, overtaking isn’t difficult. For some however using indicators to tell other motorist what you are doing isn’t second nature. For this reason lane departure warning systems are a pretty good idea. Using sensors underneath the car they can detect the cars position within a given lane and alert the driver if they get too close or cross the line. Some systems have an annoying bong which will drive everyone crazy; others cause the steering wheel or driver’s seat to vibrate. It’s a system that really works. Ford have taken the system one step further and offer intervention, the car will gently steer itself back into the centre of the lane if needed, this can however be overridden.

As seen on the Ford Focus Titanium

DVD Players

Everyone loves a good movie, now you can easily watch your favourite film in your car. DVD players mounted in the rear headrests have been around for quite a while hidden on option lists. Manufacturers are now starting to fit them to some models as standard. For parents with screaming, bored kids they are a dream to have. If equipped with wireless headphones long journey can come and go with ease, some systems even have pre-loaded games. Brilliant!

As seen on the Mitsubishi Shogun SG4

Blind Spot Warning

One of the more common accidents on today’s roads is caused by drivers not seeing people, bicycles or other cars that are hidden in their blind spot. Modern cars are being fitted more and more with blind spot warning systems. These are usually neatly housed in the car’s wing mirrors consisting of a small led bulb that either lights up for flashes if the car senses an obstacle in the driver's blind spot. It’s a simple system that really can be trusted.

As seen on the Volvo XC60 R-Design Lux

HDD Music Drive

Who frequently listens to CDs in their cars? Most people actually. This could soon be a thing of the past. In the same way that you load music onto your MP3/IPod you can do the same with your car thanks to systems offered on a series of models. If you insert a CD into the unit you will be prompted with a menu asking whether you would like to copy the CD to the units’ hard drive. In doing this you can build up a music collection just for driving. Amusingly in a handful of the press cars we have tried we have found a rather eclectic mix of music from previous road testers.

As seen on the Peugeot RCZ GT

Active City Stop

Ever driven in a built up area and a football comes rolling across the road? Most have; all too often it’s followed by a child unaware of your approach. Active City Stop systems have the ability to activate the car’s brakes at lower speeds and more quickly than the most alert driver can. The systems work surprisingly well, although difficult to test with the use of a little ingenuity their full effectiveness can be demonstrated. These systems are cropping up more and more even in low-cost city cars such as the Seat Mii and Skoda Citigo.

As seen on the Ford Focus Titanium

Intelligent Cruise Control

Cruise control has been around for years and boy is it useful on long journeys. Keeping a constant speed on motorways without the use of your feet is a great idea. Cars today take this one step further. With the help of sensors that detect the distance from the car in front. When activating the cruise control a predefined distance from the car in front can be selected. The car will brake itself if it becomes too close to the car in front and can accelerate fairly hard if needed when a gap ahead increases.

As seen on the Volvo XC60 R-Design Lux

Heated Steering Wheel

OK, you are probably thinking, why on earth would you pay for a heated steering wheel? Well, because they are brilliant. More and more cars are being fitted with this brilliant device that consists of a small element in the wheel that keeps the drivers hands nice and toasty. Most cars just have an on or off function; others have a handful of settings for different temperatures. It seems a little gimmicky but coupled with a heated seat Britain’s cold winters can be an absolute pleasure to drive around in. It’s as simple as that!

As seen on the Kia Cee’d 4 Tech

Words by Rob McSorley


  1. Superb gadgets. the Active City Stop looks superb of all.

  2. Thanks for bringing such nice info. i m going to have a heated steering wheel soon for my toyota.. You must add Night Vision in your gadget list too. It is a helpful gadget that enables drivers to prevent car bumping from uneven roads.

  3. I am gonna get some cheap gadgets for my car and the above 10 are made me crazy to have as well. I think car gadgets make our drive more safe and easy.


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