Developments and innovations in automotive design, engineering, and production have made it possible for cars to have a wider variety of options for both standard and optional kits. It’s easy to get carried away with excitement over the newer features, but let’s not forget the essentials. While some are often overlooked and aren’t necessarily recent inventions, they are far more useful than a number of fancy novelties you could easily do without.
The next time you pore over the spec sheets of the cars on your shopping list, look for these features that make a car safer and easier to drive:
1. Small-displacement turbo engine
Whether for the economy or high-end models, downsized powerplants with turbocharging and direct-injection have become the favored engines of practically all brands in the automotive industry. Volkswagen, for instance, uses its TSI gasoline engines with BlueMotion Technology across its lineup of offerings. These motors deliver ample power and torque, but not at the expense of fuel efficiency or emissions.
2. DSG with hill hold control
A direct-shift gearbox is an automated transmission with two separate clutches: one controlling the odd gears and the other controlling the even gears. This allows for rapid gearshifts and instant acceleration at any engine speed, without compromising fuel economy.
Hill hold control, meanwhile, is a transmission function that comes in handy when you’re accelerating from a full stop on a steep incline. It applies adequate braking pressure to keep your car from accidentally rolling backward, and releases the brakes when it senses that there is sufficient throttle input to propel the car forward.
3. Leather seats
Good-quality leather upholstery elevates a car’s cabin, making it luxurious and inviting. And while the material requires occasional cleaning and conditioning to prevent cracks and discoloration, the daily upkeep of leather is quick and simple: Just wipe off dust, crumbs, and spills, and you’re good to go.
4. Cruise control
If you do a lot of driving on flat highways, cruise control can help improve your engine’s fuel economy by managing throttle input and gear changes to keep your car running at the set speed. It also reduces driver fatigue on long trips.
When you’re on an out-of-town drive to an idyllic destination, a sunroof lets you enjoy the cool and fresh outside air without having to open your car’s windows. It can be used during city driving, too: Just leave the sunroof’s glass panel closed and slide the sunshade open to let natural light stream into the cabin.
All these features are standard on the Lavida, one of the latest additions to Volkswagen’s local lineup. Powered by a 130hp 1.4-liter TSI engine with BlueMotion Technology, this compact sedan is also equipped with Climatronic air-conditioning, ESP, and a tire-pressure monitor—features that are found across the entire Volkswagen range and are not offered by other vehicles at the Lavida’s price point.
Like Volkswagen’s other new releases, the Lavida has a recommended PMS interval of 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first. This means that instead of requiring preventive maintenance every six months or 5,000km (the typical PMS interval for most vehicles on the market), it needs to be serviced only once a year.