Road Trip … Or Moon Shot? by Eric Peters
You don’t have to be a cranky old fart to find yourself increasingly at odds with the multiplexed interfaces, mouse inputs and menus, touch screen displays and tyrannical computer “aids” that are becoming commonplace features on modern cars – and which sometimes do their best to back seat drive you into vein-popping fury.
It often begins as soon as you settle into your seat. Dare to drive away without immediately buckling-up for safety like a good little boy or girl, and the “Danger! Danger! Will Robinson!” sound effects commence. Some of the “Belt Minder” chimes on new cars shriek at a pitch apparently calculated to enrage any normal human within 60 seconds. Picture the old Incredible Hulk TV series; some redneck thug has just cold-cocked Bruce Banner… an easygoing guy, so long as you don’t make him angry. The end result in both cases is the same: The blood boils, the fury builds to explosive levels – and before you realize what’s happening, you’re Lou Ferrigno in green body paint hurling a bank of computers across the room. Only it’s that buzzer in the dash you want to club to death.
I feel the same way about having to fight a Traction Control computer that doesn’t want to let me do a burnout or slide through a corner under my control. Some of these systems have “off” switches – but many can’t be completely disabled. At least, not without going through an elaborate, multi-step process. They cut power, or “selectively apply the brakes” (or both) to make sure you don’t have too much fun.
Is it juvenile to want to lay a bit of rubber in a performance car? Sure – but isn’t that why people buy high-performance cars? If not, why bother? No one needs a three or four hundred horsepower engine to get efficiently from A to B.
But I absolutely understand wanting one. And when you pay for one, you ought to be able to use it.
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