Cars and technology have seen their fortunes increasingly intertwined, with plenty of synergy in the development between these two.
2016 saw the introduction of a bevy of new cars which brought technology further to the forefront in the automotive sphere. The road towards autonomous driving is becoming increasingly clearer, but we’re not quite there yet. For now though we’ll have to make do with increasingly smarter semi-autonomous technology that will fit and simplify our rapidly evolving lifestyles.
Here are some of our favourites from 2016 that showed the way for everyone else. Which is worthy of your approval?
BMW 7 Series
Large luxury saloons are usually the leading lights when it comes to the introduction of new automotive technology. But even with that taken into account, the new 7 Series completely blitzes everyone into oblivion with its host of fancy gadgets and features. Gesture control allows you to operate the infotainment system simply by waving your hand and fingers, while if you go for the top spec version, you can even park the car via remote control.
This slick Swedish saloon takes aim at the Germans from a tech perspective as well. Standard on the S90 is a system called Drive Pilot Assist, which is capable of steering, accelerating and braking the car automatically at speeds of up to 130kph. You still have to put your hands on the steering wheel (or the system deactivates), but this is as close to fully autonomous driving we can get for now.
The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class also offers a virtually semi-autonomous driving experience, with its system able to steer, accelerate, brake, change lanes and stick to posted speed limits, almost all by itself. Unlike the Volvo however, Mercedes’ system comes as an optional package. Given the E-Class’ status as the middle manager’s ride of choice, it can be said that this is the car that truly brings (nearly) autonomous driving to the masses.
Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) are usually bought by the lifestyle sort, those who indulge in outdoor activities on a regular basis (presumably). Jaguar’s first ever SUV, the F-Pace, has been truly designed for just such a lifestyle. Its innovative Activity Key allows you to lock and unlock the car with a nifty wristband. The idea is you leave your car key in the car, go for your run/jog/trek/swim wearing the Activity Key, and then unlock the car with it when you return. Neat.
The race towards autonomous driving is heating up, and while some carmakers are still a bit behind, it won’t be long before they catch up. Audi for one are among the chasers, and its latest A4 boasts some of the latest technologies that take the stresses out of driving. Traffic Jam Assist takes charge of the car in, well, traffic jams, applying the brakes and accelerator at the right time so you can take a moment to rest your legs during rush hour.