Can you imagine your car changing its demeanour according to your driving moods? Weekdays a sedan for relaxing business trips, Saturdays a budget car to go shopping, Sundays a sports car for sheer driving fun - and all these at the tap of a button? Interesting; isn't it?
Continental AG has developed a technology that changes the driving dynamics of the car, out of a choice of three pre-configured modes - Comfort, Eco and Sport. The system called 'Simplify Your Drive' enables drivers to exploit their vehicles' full functional potential, rather buy one car and experience many different ones.
Continental has integrated the technology into a Volkswagen Passat. The car doesn't look any different, cosmetically. However, the motor, chassis and suspension settings can be configured to fit any situation on the road. Although many other carmakers offer sport, comfort and eco settings, I must say Continental has the most appealing system so far, thanks to simple yet appealing Human Machine Interface and reconfigurable displays.
These three buttons on the centre console help you swap between three modes — Eco, Comfort and Sport.
On the Eco mode, all functions are tuned for an eco-friendly driving. The speedometre and the ambiance become green. A green "magic eye" on the display grows larger, as an incentive for an eco-friendly driving style. There is an engine "inhibitor" that curbs power, shifts gears early and the suspension is lowered to improve aerodynamics. However, the most interesting feature is the accelerator pedal that generates counterpressure to alert driver to non-eco-friendly accelerating behavior. That cloverleaf you see on the screen in an incentive system that encourages eco-conscious driving.
The Comfort mode creates a soothing blue ambience inside the cabin. The display is slimmed down to its essential elements allowing the driver to relax and concentrate on driving. Convenient engine-transmission harmonization and pleasing damping coupled with maximum spring travel ensure you enjoy the optimum comfort level. Moreover, Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning systems are activated so that you can relax and enjoy the drive. Well, the real fun begins when you touch that horse on the centre console. The car turns into a horse, literally. Yes, you are in the Sport mode now; the suspension and steering have firmed up, full power is released from the engine and transmission shifts later and closer to the upper end to the rev-range. The display and the ambiance become sporty red and the animated drift indicator shows G-forces on every turn. To add to the whole fun, blip the throttle and the sound it emits is pure aural delight.
If you wonder how Simplify Your Drive would adapt to Indian driving conditions, wait for another couple of months, Continental AG is on the last stage of developing the technology to 'simplify our drive' in India.