Published on December 18th, 2017 | by Guest Contributor
Five Wacky Car Features You Didn’t Know Existed.
Car manufacturers have always tried to differentiate themselves by adding unique features to their vehicles. From the 1930’s navigation system that used long mechanical scrolling maps (which worked well, as long as you didn’t deviate from the one road covered by the map!) to the Don Draper-approved magnetic minibar in the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado’s glovebox, automotive history is littered with tons of crazy features, a lot of which did not pass the test of time.
Today’s “techmobiles” are filled with behind-the-scenes features that most drivers are oblivious to, like active suspension systems that automatically adapt to changing road and weather conditions. But manufacturers still have the occasional urge to add something a little different to their option lists. Here are five of them.
The adorably quirky Fiat 500 lets you add a touch of olfactive flair to your car’s interior. This perfume diffuser plugs into the cigarette lighter and includes a kit of three fragrances: Citrus, Essence of Night and Breath of Fresh Air. How this differs from an air freshener that you clip to an air vent, we’re not sure, but the option is reasonably-priced, so why not indulge if you want to spread official Fiat-approved scents throughout the 500’s diminutive cabin.
Traffic Light Countdown Timer.
Ever wanted to know how long you still had to wait at the lights? Audi’s got a solution for you. On the surface, this doesn’t sound like the greatest idea. I mean, if you know how long you have until the light turns green, aren’t you more likely to pick up your phone and send an illegal text? Not to mention that the feature might give an unfair advantage to red-light drag racers. Either way, Audi’s Traffic Light Information technology is a thing and it is going to be offered in select cities. As of this writing, Ottawa had planned to add the technology to its infrastructure, which will allow A4, A5, Q5 & Q7 models to benefit from the city’s traffic light data.
It makes sense that this one would be found on a minivan. Indeed, the cavernous Honda Odyssey is one hard vehicle to keep clean, but the task is made seriously more convenient thanks to its onboard vacuum cleaner. Not just any old dust-buster either, but a genuine Shop-Vac canister vacuum that’s hardwired to the vehicle. Consumer Reports tested the $2,500 USD option back in 2013 and they were happy to report that its performance was on par or superior to that of several popular corded vacuums. Maybe not the best value for money at this price, but still one heck of a conversation starter.
Hearing Protection During an Accident.
Say what now? Human ears have a protection mechanism called the stapedius reflex. It’s a way of protecting the inner ear from suffering damage when extremely loud noises occur. Now, some Mercedes cars feature what the company calls PRE-SAFE Sound technology, which emits a loud noise just before a collision happens. The noise triggers the ear’s reflex, which causes the inner ear muscles to contract and mute the high-pressure sounds caused by the collision – including the airbag’s explosion. Nifty!
Mercedes PRE-SAFE Sound technology is very cool.
Massaging seats aren’t new; they’ve been offered in luxury vehicles for decades. Foot massagers though, do qualify as a wacky automotive innovation. As far as we know, this feature is exclusive to the long-wheelbase Audi A8, which is basically an understated limo for low-profile captains of industry. As part of its rear-seat comfort package, Audi calls this a “rear relaxation seat with power footrest”, both of which are also heated. Note that only one relaxation seat is offered per vehicle, so couples’ massages are off the board for now.
Do you know about any wacky car accessories we may have missed?
© 2017 CAA South Central Ontario
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