Thursday, February 26, 2015

Article- When did comfort become the norm when buying a car!!!!

Okay I’m guilty I do love some of the modern gadgets and comforts of my new company car, the DAB radio that tells you the band and track name of the song playing, steering wheel controls, 60mpg and integrated satnav, but when did all that comfort and convenience become more important than the driving?

I recently had to use a hire car due to my Seat Leon FR being in the body shop thanks to having a disagreement with HGV, he wanted to be in my lane, as a result I was given a brand new Vauxhall Mokka to use.

When I first drove it I hated it, too high, too soft, and too slow. But over the week something strange happened, I kind off, sort off maybe started liking it. Or rather the type of cross-over car that it represented, I even may have mentioned looking at a Volkswagen Tiguan when my works car is due for replacement. To be honest some parts of the Mokka seemed dated despite it being brand new model, like the stereo display. Now I’ve always prided myself that I would never actively go out and buy/sell-out and get a full on “family” car despite having a family. What do I mean by “family” car, a people carrier or where space and passenger comfort is more important than the actual driving experience.

Okay there was that 9 months with a Mazda 5 which was a company pool car and if I were pushed I would happily recommend it to my friends as a perfect family wagon especially with those side sliding doors, just make sure it a diesel. But it wasn’t me, me being the guy who despite getting very close to middle age (37) doesn’t want to completely give in and start driving a magnolia car.

Any way where was I, oh yes the Mokka, now I have to set the scene it was just after Christmas and the UK was under a severe cold snap, freezing temperatures and snow flurries (if you live in the UK this means panic food buying and constant complaining about the winter weather, we also do the same in summer when it’s too hot for too long). Now the Mokka had leather seats, I’m not a real fan of these after getting burnt too many times after leaving the ones in my Mk1 Toyota MR2 uncovered on a summer days and jumping in in shorts, however to their credit they were heated and perfect for very cold mornings. However we’ve finally got to the reason for all this, I was looking at the knobs and switches and I noticed this on one of them-

Not really knowing what it was for I pressed it and you guessed right it was a heated steering wheel, my first thought was “why on earth would you need a heated steering wheel” this was my downfall in the comfort stakes as after de-icing the car and with freezing hands it was just perfect. I believe the industry description is “surprise and delight” an option or feature that you don’t expect and no doubt use without thinking about it. That was me right there.

When you’ve driven a modern car you take the bits you like and look for them with extras on the next car you get, it’s only natural. Over the last 10-15 years this has meant, aircon, satnav, Bluetooth, heated electic wing mirrors etc. However the list of “wants” doesn’t really get longer it just gets more about comfort as most of those are now standard equipment even on the most basic of cars, so where do you go if all the things that were options are now standard, you got it, heated steering wheels. Something that isn't needed but is nice to have once you have it.
Thankfully I came back to my senses when I got the call telling me my Leon was ready for collection, it might not have some of the “luxury” and if you ask my otherhalf, seats that are too firm and a harsh ride, but it does bring a smile to my face when I drive it especially when it’s in “sport” mode. But that’s what I like about it, the still not selling out, well not for now and if I ever did (she’s been told to keep an eye on my car buying) at least I’ve still got my 1992 VW Scirocco to bring me down to earth, if it were needed, and get that smile on my face with its lack of anything verging near “luxury” but an awesome and involving driving experience, after all surly that’s what a car should be for.


1 comment:

  1. I recently hired a Mokka (I'd originally asked for an Astra, this was handed over as if it was some sort of "upgrade".)

    Found the boot to be tiny, the radio display to be like something from a mk1 Vectra, the climate control was overly complex and it was very noisy. Parking was a nightmare as rear visibility was nil.

    However it felt "chunky" in the way that modern cars do, with their big padded steering wheels, and wasn't too bad to drive (in a hire car way...).


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