Written by Sophie Davidson in collaboration with Top Tests. -Ed.
It’s remarkable how much technical equipment and gadgetry cars possess now, even compared to ten years ago. Even lower level model ranges usually provide features such as ESC (Electronic Stability Control) and sockets for iPods and USB connectivity as standard.
The forecast that driverless cars are imminent is certainly believable – after all, some provide degrees of driverless technology in the form of self-parking and collision avoidance systems right now.
Here are five high tech offerings you can already enjoy…
1. Mercedes-Benz S-Class
Bristling with high tech advances, this huge Mercedes offers such innovations as ‘virtual’ LED instrumentation and, with parking and a unique steering assistance system, the closest yet to a car that that drives itself. There’s even a scent container in the glove compartment if you fancy a bit of aromatherapy in the cabin.
Communications are handled by a fully graphical infotainment system including full voice control of navigation, music selection and telephone use.
The steering assist system adds another dimension to cruise control and lane control by actively controlling the steering to compensate for road camber. Coupled with the advanced adaptive cruise control, it’s possible to drive for many miles without really touching the accelerator or brakes.
2. Ford Fiesta ST
The 297 bhp high performance version of Ford’s best selling supermini offers engine technology to overcome the limitations of turbochargers and to keep fuel economy as reasonable as possible. The penalty for high performance has often been heavy expense at the pumps.
Advanced engine electronics keep the Fiesta on the boil and at its most economical more of the time. Turbos, while boosting power, can often suffer from lag when sudden acceleration is needed but the small Ford combats this with a state-of-the-art direct injection system.
While this tech looks after itself, more ‘hands on’ tech can be found in the cabin through the use of a graphical infotainment system and an eight-speaker Sony stereo.
The easy-to-master driving feel of a Fiesta is what makes it such an attractive prospect for learner drivers – this is a souped up model to take it onto the next level.
3. BMW 7 Series
Arguably the most technically advanced car on the road, the BMW comes with cameras to the front, the sides and rear of the car for a full 360 degree view. These cameras detect everything from road signs to animals and warning systems keep the driver appraised, and they work all the time thanks to night vision capabilities.
4. Tesla Model S
If you think electric cars have to be slow and lacking in appeal, then one look at the stylish Tesla might change your mind.
This sporty looking electric-powered car boasts astonishing sub-five second acceleration to 62 mph and has proved a hit with car reviewers for its handling and driver appeal.
The car is simplicity itself to use. Once opened with a simple fob you get in and everything lights up ready for the off. All that remains is to put the sector into ‘D’, press the accelerator and you’re away. It marks a total change compared to driving a traditional combustion-engine car.
5. Audi RS 7 Quattro
A genuine all-rounder being fast and huge fun to drive yet quiet, comfortable and very high-tech.
With a powerful, yet reasonably economical, engine thanks to advanced electronics, adaptive suspension and an all-wheel drive system and web-connected tech courtesy of computer experts Nvidia, the RS 7 bristles with technology.
A customisable driving environment and full web-connected infotainment system make the Audi a tech fan’s dream.