British offroad veterans have told The Telegraph that they spurn the trappings of modern soft-roaders. Not that they’re rejecting climate control or multi-zone entertainment systems.
What’s at issue here is the very DNA of the vehicle. Pick any modern SUV and you’ll be swamped in a raft of acronyms which let you know that you’re in the best of hands. You don’t have to worry about going fast, or going slow, or going sideways, because #insert name here# is the only manufacturer to keep you and your loved-ones safe.
Except all this techno-wizardry comes at more than a financial cost. It may be a hoary old chestnut, but until turbo-charged engines came along, you could keep your Land Rover going on a shoe-string budget by doing most of the work yourself with the tools you had in your own garage. Even with Tdi engines, the rest of the car was mechanical (and didn’t you just know it if you ever had to push one) so bounced rather well along rutted lanes.
So when you take a Land Rover Discovery 4 for a drive, would you assume it’s natural environment would include mud, or mud packs? Is the intelligent 4 Wheel Drive system going to work this well in 15 years time? Will it do 200,000 miles? How much will it cost to fix when the super-computer in control of everything goes AWOL?
And from the sub-slime to the LEDiculous. Jaguar Land Rover has conceived of a time when the computer and the car merge to the driver’s benefit in a Frankensteinian HUD-meets-HAL windscreen, where a series of cameras can be used to replace the view of the car’s internal structure, providing a 360 degree view of the outside world. How likely this is to come to fruition is debatable, as the cost of a TV unit is one thing whereas turning the inside of your car into the outside of your TV is another.
Of greatest interest and use though is the ‘urban windscreen’. Linking a projector to the internet provides a windscreen display with not only a ‘ghost-car’ navigation system but also visual prompts including available parking spaces in car parks or fuel prices at the up-coming service station.
Considering their previous concept of cameras under the body to show the state of the ground under the prodigious bonnets of Range Rovers, we can only wonder when the interior of cars will consist almost exclusively of TV Screen…
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This article was written by Rupert Astbury.