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Justin Case

The Joy of Specs !

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This thread has inevitably followed on from the discussion on Vauxhall (not very) special editions, not to mention countless others on the same theme. I find some things essential now but others I don't feel the slightest need for, regardless of whether they come with the car or not.

 

Up to my present car, I have always had the most basic version, but now there are a couple of features I always miss in most other cars. First is the electric sunroof. My only contact (not literally :) ) with sunroofs was when a mate fitted an el cheapo lift out one to one of Saabs, It was small and such a faf to take out that  only used it about twice. Now, I just press a button and I have the nearest thing to a convertible in a few seconds. You can use it virtually any time it's not raining, the best is on summer evenings. The other one, which I had never had before, is the electric drivers seat adjustment with memory. When my wife drives the car, she just presses a button to get her ideal driving position, and I just have to press another one to return to my setting. I can also change my position slightly on a long journey without having to grope around under the seats.

 

Now to the things I could do without. Big wheels, they always go with rubber band tyres to fit the wheel arches and ruin the ride. My Alfa had 15" wheels and was far more comfortable than 17" or18" and the handling seemed just as good. Next electric mirrors, something else to go wrong and cost an arm and a leg to replace when Transited. What happened to the little joystick inside the door that you twiddled, and a gentle push to fold them in when you parked? Leather seats, cold in winter and hot in summer. Finally. 'connectivity', I don't want to be in touch with anybody, that's why I go by car and not bus. In any case if I want to communicate with the rest of the world, I don't need an internet connection, I can just open a window and shout :)

 

So what could you not live without and what would you throw in the skip?

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All my cars are pre-cat, pre sat-nav, pre-airbag and none have electric windows.   I don't want any of that microchip stuff either.  Or aircon.   Its nice to have the electric roof on the Merc but I know a time will come when I wish it didn't have it.    Oh, and auto is nice on the Merc too.   Its also the only car I have with power steering and heated rear window but I don't miss those when I drive my others either.... 

 

Basically, I am happy if they all work properly in their limited ways!

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Sunroof- lovely idea but fraught with trouble in old chod. Oddly both my current cars have one; I usually avoid them like the plague.

 

Umm that's about it; mega low profile tyres/chunky alloys would be something I'd not tick but at least you can easily swap them, unlike the leaky rusty hole in the roof.....

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Need* leccy windows, half-decent stereo, rev counter & proper temp gauge. Hard suspension, hard seats and skinny tyres on anything other than an actual sports car can GTF.

 

Bizarrely, if I'm driving older cars then I'm fine with keep-fit windows and crackly speakers, I just get really annoyed when a daily driver doesn't have fully button-adjustable airflow and banging choonz.

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I managed the first 15 years of my motoring career without a satnav and avoided getting lost by looking at an atlas and spending a lot of money on A-Zs, so it can do one. Heater/ventilators that actually clear the screen rather than just stir damp air are very welcome.

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This is going to be a big list:

- Auto lights

- Rain sense wipers

- Auto dim interior mirror

- Electric windows

- Electric mirrors

- Cruise control

- Central locking

- Power steering

- Torquey engine, ive owned some underpowered stuff in my time and the annoyance of trying to get the bloody things to move is horrible, compared to something with a wee bit of oomph so you can doddle along but can stick the boot down if you need to overtake or make some swift progress, makes driving much more relaxing. 

 

Not because I couldnt manage without any of them, ive just got too used to being a lazy bastard with them fitted I now wouldnt buy a car without them.

 

Things I could live without:

- Air con - ive owned a few cars with it fitted but only 1 with it actually working, and i never used it, ive never missed it, it just saps power, kills mpg and after a while gives me a sore napper.

- Alarm systems - either factory fit or aftermarket, they always develop bloody faults and give off false alarms meaning you need to go outside and turn the bloody thing off, i usually double press the lock button on my fob so it deactivates the alarm now.

- Bright blinding HID LED Xenon AFL projector whatever you call them headlights fitted to expensive German saloon cars which blind you as they approach from the opposite direction or in your mirrors when behind you (hence why I like an auto dim interior mirror where the glass actually tints) 

- Factory sat navs - usually a nightmare to work, outdated, hopeless and expensive to update, I do like the look of the units they fit as they usually lift the dash of the car and improve the look, but the actual sat nav functions are a waste of time. 

- Voice control for bluetooth/phonecalls/audio/song playback, because they never understand your accent and dont do as you ask so you end up quicker and easier just doing it yourself. 

- Keyless entry/pushbutton start - only any good if the whole car is keyless where just having the key on your person is enough that pulling the door handle unlocks the car, the system Ford use on high spec stuff where you need to press the button on the fob to lock/unlock the car, but only need the fob on your person for the push start to start the car, you end up having to find somewhere to put the key, remember to lift it when you switch the engine off etc. so would be as well just inserting it into the ignition, hence it should be all or nothing with these systems.

- Parking sensors on certain cars - I can understand why youd need them on a LWB Sprinter van, or even on a Mondeo estate or something, but on a 3 door Fiesta or Corsa, really? if youre that bad a driver you cant judge the size of something this small without sensors then you shouldnt have a licence IMO. 

- Folding door mirrors that are as thick as they are wide so when folded in are just as wide as when folded out, totally pointless.

- Electric Parking Brakes - no explanation necessary. 

- Really lazy stuff like electric tailgate closing on German estate cars.

 

Things all cars should have:

- Heated windscreen like Fords, Jags, Land Rovers and so on and for some reason new Vauxhall Corsas but not newer more recently introduced Astras and Insignias, I dont get why youd fit it to the Corsa and then omit it from the Astra and Insignia. But all cars should have them.

- Either dimming door mirror glasses like the auto dim interior rear view mirror or blue tinted glass on the mirror glass like a mk4 Golf so save being blinded by wanky bright headlights.

 

Not sure why but ive always tried to buy the highest spec most equipment laden trim of any car ive bought within my budget and taking into other factors like mileage and condition, even if some of it would be pointless me having as id never use it, always liked a high spec car and always thought why travel round in a spartan spec one when I could have a better equipped one making it a nicer place to be, as such ive never owned a car without electric windows for example. I do think though the more new things they introduce the more I end up wanting, i remember when I was knee high to a grasshopper and wanted a Nova or mk2 Fiesta as my first car and all I cared about it having was a sunroof, rear wiper and alloys, maybe subconsciously because those features marked out the top spec back then, but even my mk3 Astra 11 years ago with electric front windows, a sunroof, central locking, power steering and alloys was perfectly adequate but now id find it too poverty spec. 

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My S60 is an SE spec, which gives it a rather nice polished-metal effect centre console (rather than cheapish wood), and chrome bumper strips instead of black plastic.

 

No sunroof, but leccy windows all round, CD player and a very good sound system. Also, black leather, with an electrically operated driver's seat (with memory), manual passenger seat but NO HEATED SEATS. That blanking plate taunts me like the dreadful first world problem that it is.

 

Who gets a leather-seated Volvo and doesn't opt for them to be heated? Maybe those who read about them bursting into flames in the V70, granted, but still. COMPLAIN.

 

I've been without heated leather for a while. In fact, since the V70 (which was bloody ACE), the 9-3 Aero was spartan compared to Vector (the highest spec) and didn't have heated seats. Mason DID have heated leather seats but they didn't work. As none of the four seats worked I suspected it was a fuse, so an easy fix which I lazily neglected to do.

 

Dead cow seats are wonderful for a lot of the year but for the two weeks or so it's agony, particularly when they are black. Genuine burns from those weeks in June when it was 40 degrees in the car when I got back to it after work.

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My S60 is an SE spec, which gives it a rather nice polished-metal effect centre console (rather than cheapish wood), and chrome bumper strips instead of black plastic.

 

No sunroof, but leccy windows all round, CD player and a very good sound system. Also, black leather, with an electrically operated driver's seat (with memory), manual passenger seat but NO HEATED SEATS. That blanking plate taunts me like the dreadful first world problem that it is.

 

Who gets a leather-seated Volvo and doesn't opt for them to be heated? Maybe those who read about them bursting into flames in the V70, granted, but still. COMPLAIN.

 

I've been without heated leather for a while. In fact, since the V70 (which was bloody ACE), the 9-3 Aero was spartan compared to Vector (the highest spec) and didn't have heated seats. Mason DID have heated leather seats but they didn't work. As none of the four seats worked I suspected it was a fuse, so an easy fix which I lazily neglected to do.

 

Dead cow seats are wonderful for a lot of the year but for the two weeks or so it's agony, particularly when they are black. Genuine burns from those weeks in June when it was 40 degrees in the car when I got back to it after work.

 

No way! I thought Volvo being Volvo the winter pack was standard on just about everything, so all their cars had heated seats, even the cloth interior ones.

 

Christ! my aunt had an F reg 340 1.7 with manual windows etc. and even it had heated seats. 

 

I wouldve thought cow hide was a nightmare 2 times of the year, especially without seat heaters, the summer as you say but also freezing cold, icy, snowy winter when the leathers baltic and youre awaiting the heated seats warming up. 

 

I prefer the best of both worlds, half leather. comfier, still looks the part, and no issues with freezing/roasting seats. 

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after my experience , electric assisted steering , how unsafe is a unit that goes from 100% assistance to -200% effort in a the time of a blip , no gradual deterioration or warning   ... blip and off !!    , not only that , all the assistance effort goes throu the column  , joints and rack gearing , as opposed  to a hydraulic ram based on the rack itself !

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Voice control for bluetooth/phonecalls/audio/song playback, because they never understand your accent and dont do as you ask so you end up quicker and easier just doing it yourself.

 

The voice control in my X-trail doesn't understand my makem accent .No matter how clearly i try to speak.

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I'd keep the aircon/climate control and ditch the traction control.

 

Traction control saved me from a slide I wasn't expecting the other week. *Before the new tyres with wet rating A were fitted.

 

I probably shouldn't have pressed the sport mode on the auto box, in the rain, and then booted it quite so hard coming off a slimy roundabout. I'm sure it changed down twice, before starting to slide, which stopped as the traction control applied some magic

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Live without:

 

Connectivity - drive the car, your texts, Farcebook, Twatter, etc are irrelevant

Hands free phones - no one is so important that their calls can't wait

Touch screen anything - pointless

Stupid big wheels with narrow tyres - pointless bling

Puncture repair gloop instead of spare wheels - pointless answer to a question that no one asked

Privacy glass - pointless

Auto wipers - needless

Auto lights - needless

Sat Nav - just look where you are going

 

Must have:

 

Petrol engine, ideally with a hybrid

Auto box

Electric mirrors

Decent radio

Air con / climate

 

Really like but really not essential at all:

 

Heated seats

Sunroof, but I'd rather have a cabriolet

Memory seats

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I wouldn't own a car with an auto gearbox.

 

Other than that, I don't need things such as cruise control, 'driver aids' such as lane departure warning and other such guff, 'connectivity package', rear seat entertainment / TV or other distractions. I've driven cars that have them, I just don't use them.

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The Cacti because it's kinda the top of the range model has auto everything... I love the rear camera. :(

But because it's a Citroen, it takes a few days to kick in.

 

It also takes as long to turn off again though, so you can do the maneuvering you intended to do when you were going backwards after you start going forwards.

 

I wouldn't own a car with an auto gearbox.

 

That's one of the few things I have to have these days, although a glass roof (preferably a panoramic one, but a big sunroof is good enough) is a big bonus. I just want somewhere comfortable to sit, where I don't have to do too much.

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I prefer an auto box. Also enjoy having air con. The toyota has electric windows,electric sunroof,working ac and full leather yet doesn't have cruise control or heated seats. The heaters warm the car up very quickly if needed though but i would have liked cruise control on long journeys.

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Live without:

Connectivity - drive the car, your texts, Farcebook, Twatter, etc are irrelevant

Hands free phones - no one is so important that their calls can't wait

Touch screen anything - pointless

Stupid big wheels with narrow tyres - pointless bling

Puncture repair gloop instead of spare wheels - pointless answer to a question that no one asked

Privacy glass - pointless

Auto wipers - needless

Auto lights - needless

Sat Nav - just look where you are going

Must have:

Petrol engine, ideally with a hybrid

Auto box

Electric mirrors

Decent radio

Air con / climate

Really like but really not essential at all:

Heated seats

Sunroof, but I'd rather have a cabriolet

Memory seats

Cruise control can get the boot

Lane departure - never bothered to turn it on

Anything that mirrors a phone on the (now deleted) touchscreen

Anything called 'infotainment'

Rear seat video screens - a bit of boredom never did me any harm as a child

5 million watt headlights that morons can adjust to illuminate half of the county

Rear fog lights that don't restrict speed to 50mph

Front fog lights that don't restrict speed to 50mph

 

My modern has a parking camera, interesting but not essential by any means

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Must Haves:

Air con - It's hot in Australia

Heater - It's cold in Australia

Mirrors on BOTH doors

Tape deck

Indicators that turn themselves off

Reversing lights

Real spare wheel

 

Handy, but not necessary:

Electrified things - mirrors/seats/windows etc.

Trip computer - for when i'm to lazy to do maths

Sunroof

Cruise control

Sat-nav - for emergencies

 

Things that can bugger off:

Steering wheel buttons

Phone conectivity

Day time running lights

Obviously fake wood

Reversing/parking aids

Cheap plastics

Spare wheel in a can

Automated things - wipers/lights ect.

Voice command - dosn't work

Heated seats

Electric closing boots - are you fucking serious?!

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Voice control for bluetooth/phonecalls/audio/song playback, because they never understand your accent and dont do as you ask so you end up quicker and easier just doing it yourself.

 

The voice control in my X-trail doesn't understand my makem accent .No matter how clearly i try to speak.

What about the locally built Nissan's, surely they understand Makem?

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Torquey engine

Longish gearing

65 or more profile tyres

Supple springs

High quality shock absorbers

Decent headlamps

Anti-lock brakes

Transistorised ignition

If diesel then turbo and veg capability

 

Have got used to an outside temperature gauge, improvisation easily achieved with cheap ebay purchase.

 

The finest possible spec of all is infinitely rising-rate suspension with self-levelling, that funny suspension with green liquid and screw-in bauble-like springs which always goes wrong, according to knowledgeable men in bars. Unless JCB Fastrack, because non-Frog.

 

Cars with it usually come sensibly-specced with many of the above.

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