Automotive features that are going missing in this decade
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This thread has been jointly compiled with GTO!
The only thing that’s constant is “change” and it’s true with cars as well. While our favourite models continuously evolve, they also have to drop some attributes & features. Listed below are some that we are happy with, and some we miss! @ BHPians: Please add to this list with features or qualities you think we have lost in the last decade, or are going to lose in the coming years.
Heavy build quality:
So many newer generation cars are lighter than the outgoing ones. Lesser weight makes them more efficient, faster and easier to handle + stop than their predecessors. They also pollute the air lesser. Take a look at the current-gen Swift for instance. It gets a lighter platform and weighs just 855 – 985 kg (depending upon the variant) against the older car’s kerb weight of 965 – 1,060 kg. Downside? It shows in the build & driving feel. A few critics actually refer to Maruti’s new platform as heart-attack and not heartect!
Ashtrays & cigarette lighters:
Drivers in the 80s and 90s had a knack of smoking in cars. Manufacturers provided ashtrays not just at the front, but even at the rear and / or on the doors of those cars. A cigarette lighter was standard in some cheap hatchbacks too. This trend has died out as smoking has become a “bane”, politically incorrect, uncool & just doesn’t fit (pun intended) in today’s health-obsessed world. In a few models however, you might get a removable ashtray that fits into a cupholder.
Hydraulic power steering:
We love hydraulic power steerings for their feel & feedback. They are unfortunately a dying breed due to packaging, cost & complexity reasons. But hey, we got to admit = some of the new EPS’ are almost as good, leaving us with little cause for complaint. A few manufacturers though get it horribly wrong. Drive any new Maruti launch and you’ll know what we are talking about (start with the S-Presso).
Full-size spare wheel:
Another one we’re terribly sore about. Manufacturers love space saver spare tyres as they are lighter, release some boot space (being smaller) and cheaper. The problem for customers is you can’t really drive a car the same way when it’s wearing a space saver. The max speed has to be restricted & cornering ability…well, there is none! It also creates a problem for those car owners who practice 5-tyre rotation. Some new models don’t have a space saver per se, but they simply provide the (thinner) tyre of the lower variant as a spare. Same problems. We hate it. The Hyundai Aura, Kia Seltos and Tata Altroz are among the latest ones we have tested with thinner spares. When costs can be cut without making it “too obvious” or visible to the customer, you can be sure that all other manufacturers will follow. The bean counters can fight with engineers over 100 bucks.
Manual window winders:
At present, these are available only on lower variants, but the primary reason isn’t cost (power windows are dirt cheap today). It’s to differentiate the trim levels & dissuade buyers from the base variants. Manual winders are a relic & we expect them to die out in due time.
Tailgate-mounted spare wheels for SUVs:
Admit it = you love SUVs with tail-gate mounted spare wheels. It looks cool & really butch. Downside = it takes more strength and effort to remove or put one back. The tailgate also needs to be more robust. This means thicker materials for construction with stronger hinges. Rattling too can create problems. As a result, with time, manufacturers have started housing the spare wheels of SUVs elsewhere (e.g. inside the boot or under the body). Some cars that earlier had it on the tailgate moved it elsewhere (e.g. Tata Safari).
Large fuel tanks:
The average fuel tank size is definitely getting smaller. Some recent launches that have gotten smaller fuel tanks than their predecessors are the Tata Altroz (37 liters vs Bolt’s 44 liters), Hyundai Aura (37 liters vs Xcent’s 43 liters), Maruti WagonR (32 liters vs 35 liters) and Swift / Dzire (37 liters vs 42 liters). Imagine the Kwid gets a 28L tank, in the same market that a Mahindra Mojo motorcycle offers a 21L tank!!
While we don’t expect traditional keys to disappear altogether, they are definitely going to become less common due to the convenience of smartkeys & flippy keys. The cost of smartkeys & flippy keys is also dropping like crazy, hence we expect to see them get common even in mass market cars. On a related note, we further expect to see standalone keyholes disappear; more cars will have them integrated into the door handle nicely for aesthetic reasons.
Physical dials in instrument clusters:
We love it old school & aren’t fans of digital instrument clusters at all. Sadly, it’s a way for manufacturers to “differentiate” their product (e.g. Triber, Altroz) and they are keen on the same (especially since costs are falling). Even BMW is moving to digital clusters in a big way. Here’s what we love = rev counter on the left, speedo on the right, both analogue!
Retractable antennas are just yuck! With open arms, we welcome stubby antennas & sharkfin designs.
Earlier, almost every car had an overdose of badges denoting the name of the manufacturer, model, variant, engine, technology (sometimes, like the Vtec) and the AT transmission. We further used to be punished with stickers revealing the emission-norm compliance of the car!!! Lately, we have observed some manufacturers cutting down on the number of badges. As an example, the current-gen Maruti Swift. We don’t like clutter & love this clean look. Guess the OEMs read our debadging thread.
Click here to join the dedicated discussion on the rapid deletion of temp gauges. We love them as it tells us when the engine has warmed up (and we can redline), gives us ample warning of overheating problems etc. etc. That’s why we don’t appreciate how cars like the Dzire and Aura have dumped the all-important temperature needle.
The AUX port is going the way of the CD player! With USB & Apple CarPlay / Android Auto going mainstream, this is a feature only a handful will miss. Many manufacturers have replaced AUX ports with an extra USB port – all the better for our smartphones that need to be charged ever so often!
Proper rear bumpers:
Because of India’s unique rule where sub-4 meter cars enjoy significantly lower taxes, and the ever-increasing customer expectations of cabin + boot space, many compact cars have rear bumpers that are frankly useless! Honda is famous for its “man maximum, machine minimum” philosophy. India’s jugaad philosophy appears to be “man maximum, bumper minimum”. If someone rear-ends your car, the hit is likely to be taken by the body of the car, thus requiring costly denting and painting work on the metal.
We’re pleased to see tube-type tyres being almost extinct among cars today, and hope that tubeless becomes the norm among two-wheelers too.
This feature helps immensely in getting that “perfect driving position”. We are rather dismayed that manufacturers are dropping it to cut costs. Cars like the Ford EcoSport and Hyundai i20, which were launched in the 2010 – 2014 period, were equipped with reach-adjustable steerings. However, their more expensive, recent launches don’t get it. The Creta, Venue and Verna all cost more than the i20, but offer merely tilt-adjustable steerings. Ford doesn’t offer it on the Endeavour which costs 3X more than the EcoSport!
Folding rear seats in sedans:
A few sedans like the Corolla had rear seats which could be folded forward to enhance luggage space & practicality. Modern sedans have annihilated the idea = the new Elantra and Civic get fixed rear seats. This reduces the practicality of sedans versus hatchbacks, crossovers & SUVS, all of which get foldable rear seats.
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