Archive | October, 2013

Highway To High-Tech

Unbeknownst to most of us, our poor benighted road system is soon to become home to Britain’s first high-tech highway. In just a few short weeks we will see our automotive future. What you may think about it is a different matter.

Essentially the deal is this: A fifty mile stretch of the A14 between Birmingham and Suffolk will be fitted with electronic gadgetry which will communicate with modern cars. The system has the potential to monitor traffic, warn of obstructions and perform many other tasks but, and this is more concerning, it could also have the ability to artificially limit a car’s speed. Clearly this won’t happen now as it would result in drivers believing there was something wrong with the motor – but it is possible.

The cars will communicate with the gizmos which will allow them to build up a picture, by way of a central computer, of congestion and the like. Much in the same way that satellite navigation works, the technology could establish the build-up of a traffic jam and calculate alternative routes.

There’s a theme building here. Manufacturers, as we all know very well, are building autonomous cars that can drive themselves. They will leave the driver free to do – what – whilst the car takes care of itself. The thinking is that accidents could become a thing of the past thanks to the science of automotive engineering. We are already seeing crash avoidance technology on cars today. Clearly the intention is for this auto technology to merge with roadside systems with the intention of controlling traffic entirely.

Rather disingenuously, the various bodies involved in this are talking up the benefits of, say, having the machine find a parking space for you whilst remaining rather more tight-lipped about control.

This is the usual route of persuasion. The carrot on the end of a stick. They will say – ‘Look how we can help you’. In fact, for anyone who likes cars and driving it is a clear and present signal that the days of carefree motoring will be over in a matter of decades. Nobody has any objection to making cars safer but it the loss of individuality and the freedom of the road that will suffer. Cars will just be transport; shuttles to get people from A to B. What a dull world that will be.

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‘Start Off-Road’ Scheme For Young Drivers

In a burst of insane thinking that might also be a good idea, those mad impetuous fools at Land Rover have devised the ‘Start Off-Road’ scheme for young would-be drivers between the ages of eleven and seventeen.

What’s more, they’re allow these kids to have the keys to a Range Rover Evoque. Don’t worry though, they will not be allowed on the road. It’s track and field only for them.

Seems like a plan. Anything that instils into young drivers a sense of their our ability and handling skills coupled with a sense of responsibility has got to be a good thing. They will experience true off-road driving, that will teach them skills and techniques that they will go on to utilise throughout their future years both on and off road, helping to develop skills and techniques that they will go on to utilise throughout their future years both on and off road.

Participants have the chance to experience driving techniques including basics such as steering, braking and reversing, as well as more advanced skills such as climbing and descending hills, crossing ditches and ridges, negotiating ruts, wet grass and mud, and even crossing water.

The idea is based on statistical evidence that younger drivers pick up new skills easier and are more open to learning good driving habits. By instilling into them the basics and sound principles of good practice it is hoped that they will gain invaluable experience for later in life.

And then of course there’s the Range Rover Evoque which these kids are going to get to drive whilst the rest of us have our metaphoric noses pressed up against the outside of the window looking in. Each Range Rover Evoque is fitted with dual controls for safety as well as an automatic gearbox, and a dedicated team of instructors are on hand to take participants through every scenario. Parents can also take part in the activity. Expect many to sign up for the schemes in and around the Midlands and South.

In preparing would-be young drivers in this way, not only does it, as mentioned, add skills but it also gives instructors the chance to develop good practice. Overall, this is excellent news from Land Rover and is to be welcomed.

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Is A Sports Car Right For You?

Sports cars can be fun. They can also be lethal so it’s best not to let your head rule your heart when thinking about a purchase. The crucial thing is that the car is right for you.

As ever, money is the first issue. A sports car can bring a lot of pleasure to your life and is a satisfying buy, especially if you’ve earned it. Why not treat yourself? The trouble is – it isn’t just the price that counts, it’s also the running costs. Generally, they aren’t the cheapest cars in the world to own.

They will often need to be shod with wider, more expensive tyres and they will likely be less fuel efficient, especially if you’ve got a heavy right foot. Insurance companies will also raise a sceptical eyebrow at your purchase. The new Alfa Romeo 4C is hugely desirable and a great drive by all accounts but can you imagine the premium? In other words a buyer has got to take a look at the cold hard world of their finances before they take the big step.

What does the future hold? That’s a question many of us would like answered, but if you are looking ahead then can you see a family on the horizon? If there’s one thing that cramps the style of a sporting driver it is the ankle-biters. If children are on the cards then a sports car’s a no-no.

Power. There are many levels. The Jaguar XKR-S – pictured – is massively powerful (5.0L Supercharged!) and massively expensive but, in truth, there will be very few occasions when a driver could really open the taps. Perhaps it would be better to consider something less powerful that will, on Britain’s narrow roads, be just as much fun without the risks that high performance can bring. If you can’t resist seriously putting your foot down then there is a way to do it legally – a track day at a circuit!

On the other hand, there is no need to go too cheap. Obviously it is your opinion that matters but reviews can be helpful in that they can flag up bad or risky cars. It’s worth reading a few before, like the value of your purchase, taking the plunge.

One last thing. If you think sports cars are desirable then so do others. There are people out there who would like a car like yours. If fact, they would actually like your car. Cars that are popular and that hold their price or are easy to sell are a target for thieves and miscreants. Think about security. Try to keep your pride and joy under lock and key when not in use and think about installing a tracker and/or an immobiliser if one is not already fitted. The last thing you need is a sad empty space outside your house.

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