(Clockwise from top left) Massage seats, sunroof, auto headlamps and wireless charging.
(Clockwise from top left) Massage seats, sunroof, auto headlamps and wireless charging.

Feature rich?

2nd Nov 2019 7:00 am

Shapur talks about over-reliance on the features list while choosing a car.

People these days seem to be shopping for features, not cars. This is highly distressing. Now I fully understand, if after looking at two similarly capable and robustly engineered cars, you eventually select the one with the more impressive feature list. And yes I totally get that trying to get maximum bang for your buck is extremely important too. But choosing a car just because it has the longest features list is going about things the wrong way. You don’t have to ignore these features completely, just look at them in a smarter way. To begin, ask yourself, how many of these features are actually likely to elevate your ownership experience? Then ask how many you are likely to use and enjoy on a regular basis. While some of them, like a large and (importantly) high-quality touchscreen, are pretty useful and will be used everyday, you’ll be surprised at how little you are likely to use many of the other so called wonder features.

Most sunroofs, for example, are so rarely used, their rails jam up with leaves and other gunk. This causes the retaining rubber parts to fit poorly, which in turn makes the roof leak. Trust me, a leaky sunroof is not a problem you want to have. Plan for at least half a dozen trips to the dealership. Almost impossible to totally resolve, unless you replace many of these rubber parts. Leaky sunroofs are so problematic, companies like Toyota actually shy away from installing them in the first place. And no, sticking your children through them on the move is not smart. At all. Even a minor accident could prove disastrous. In the case of an accident all the force gets concentrated where the sunroof meets your body. It works the same way as a knife. 

Then there’s stuff like massaging seats. Are they really as good as getting a real massage? Of course not. And how soon before you tire of the rollers randomly prodding you in the... err bottom. Also, while auto headlights, wipers and parking are all very well, you can easily do without them if they don’t happen to be on the car/SUV you are looking at.

Then of course, there’s the flip side, the stuff you really should be focusing on; things that will impact you every single day, every single minute you drive the car. Stuff like how well the car rides on out cratered roads. Does the suspension crash when driven over a bad patch, does the car feel jiggly at low speed, does it float, will it toss you around. How comfortable are the seats, are they supportive on long drives, is there sufficient legroom, headroom, shoulder room. Is the engine refined, silent, smooth, powerful, does the car feel confident in corners; the list is endless. And it is these fundamentals that make a car, not the toppings.

Author

Shapur Kotwal

  • 272  Articles

Deputy editor at Autocar India.

Shapur is at the forefront of the magazine's extensive road testing activities and oversees the test instrumentation and data acquisition. Shapur has possibly the most experience among all road testers in the country.




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