You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but you can ease its transition into decrepitude. OK, even with the knees of an (unhealthy) 75-year-old, I may be overstating my level of dilapidation, but in automotive terms I’ll admit to being a dinosaur; a fan of interesting old cars, modern design naysayer and techno-sceptic. However, the arrival of Charlton Jnr and subsequent purchase of a ‘sensible’, ergo ‘modern’ car has changed all that. I’m in danger of sounding like the guy who arrives late to a party and then points out how great it is, but new cars are brilliant.
The onset of fully-fledged adulthood has necessitated a first-time purchase of a car with more Euro NCAP stars than cylinders, and I feared it would be, figuratively, a pretty bleak place to be. For a man who’s previously considered fuel injection to be modern tech, AEB, active safety and connectivity have been things for others to be wowed by. No more, though…
I previously had no idea that every journey need not be treated as an intrepid adventure armed with a bootfull of tools, duct tape and WD40, and I have been amazed at how relaxing it is safe in the knowledge that you are no longer only a few miles from mechanical or emotional breakdown. I’ve had my eyes opened.
It may not be as popular as a decade ago and it may sell fewer (and therefore, arguably, be more exclusive) than a 3-Series, but the Mondeo remains an excellent benchmark and a useful communicator of current technology trends and consumer ‘wants’. It certainly carries everything required to convince a technological luddite like myself that there’s much more to new cars than reduced emissions, engine downsizing and clever rhetoric.
I’ll sidestep unnecessarily confusing acronyms, but laden with tech such as autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assist and a combination of cameras and sensors that carry out a litany of driver-monitoring, safety-inspiring functions, the modern day driver feels like technology is doing its best to look after the vehicle’s occupants (even pedestrians are safer when 2016 Mondeo man is bearing down on them). Let the car know you’d like to park and it will line you up swiftly and precisely, tell it “I’m hungry” (which I frequently am) and it will call up a list of restaurants in the vicinity, provide online reviews and then deliver you with a parallel park the likes of which would make the BSM purr.
Then there’s the infotainment, the build quality and calm-inducing NVH levels that were almost unheard of even 10 years ago.
The modern car buyer is spoilt, but I’m not sure they realise it. I’m also not sure that they understand what they’re getting – there’s much more to technology than ambient lighting and touchscreens. Buyers need to understand the importance and, in my case, mind-blowing potential of advanced safety systems to truly appreciate the benefits. Progressive technologies are now so accessible – I’m driving a Mondeo not an S-Class – but familiarity does not necessarily breed understanding. When fuel injection replaced carburetors I suppose ‘everyman’ simply appreciated that his car started more easily and used less fuel – perhaps buyers appreciate that technology and manufacturing techniques make new cars safer but don’t know why, and perhaps that is enough.
One thing is for sure: Mondeo man may not have turned his back on his fuel-thirsty and sentiment-inspired desires, but he’s much more grateful for the safety, security and serenity provided by modern cars. Will Charlton Jnr be an advocate of hybrids, autonomy and a safety-first nanny state? No, he’ll want a V8…