Five must-have features for your next car

File: No matter what size your car is, it'll always require effort and concentration to parallel park and alley dock. Photo: Cars.co.za

JOHANNESBURG - What are the most valuable features your next car should have? Is it adaptive cruise control, carbon ceramic brakes, an exhaust button in the cockpit, or none of these?

These are some of the interesting components to consider during your next buy. 

1. Automatic unlock

We've all been in the situation where we're walking back to our vehicle in a shopping mall parking lot. You're carrying things and the car keys are in your pocket or handbag. You have to put everything down, reach for the keys and either manually unlock the car or push a button.

Many modern cars have proximity sensors so as you approach the car, the vehicle detects the key and will unlock. Sure, you may have to struggle to open a car door with a shopping bag in your hand, but it's easier than having to drop everything. You can even get certain cars that will open the boot by wafting your foot underneath the rear bumper, meaning you don't even have to put the shopping down.

2. Apple Carplay/ Android auto

In the age of the smartphone where devices can do so much more than just call, it's critical that we spend less time glancing at our screens and focus completely on the road ahead.

First prize would be buying a vehicle which supports Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay, which removes the need to touch your device at all. The benefits include satellite navigation, handsfree phone calls, Whatsapp messages being read out, being able to send voice notes and a whole lot more.

Second prize goes to Bluetooth connectivity which removes the phone and messaging capability from the device and transfers it to the car, meaning you can make/receive calls without touching your phone. Some vehicles can also read your text messages to you.

3. Automatic headlights/wipers

Some say that this is just a gimmick, but this kind of automation reduces road incidents.

South African weather is unpredictable and sudden thunderstorms may have you frantically reaching for your wipers and headlights. A lot of the time you actually forget entirely about turning the lights on. Let the car activate the wipers and switch on the lights at the most appropriate time.

Many cars feature illuminated dashboards and daytime running lights, which fool drivers into thinking their lights are on and there have many times where we've encountered vehicles which are almost invisible on the road. Just make sure you get a car with lights that also turn off automatically - there's nothing worse than a flat battery because the headlights were left on in the car park.

4. Heated seats

Admittedly, this is more about comfort than convenience, but we're massive fans.

At the time of writing, we are in summer and heated seats seem a bit of a joke, but come winter, we'll be reaching for that button first thing in the morning.

Is there anything worse than sitting in a cold car with a frozen seat and icy steering wheel? The best win here would be a car that can heat itself before you get in and with a heated steering wheel, but these features are limited to expensive high-end vehicles.

5. Park distance control

No matter what size your car is, it'll always require effort and concentration to parallel park and alley dock. Park distance control and a reverse camera take the stresses out of parking in confined areas.

There's no need to panic and wonder how close you are to the wall and other cars, as you just need to listen to the beeps and look at the screen on the dash. It's one of the more common features found on cars and if you're a nervous parker, then this is well worth looking into.

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