Earlier this year, we had tested Continental AG's Simplify Your Drive (SyD) technology and found it very intriguing. The company had then promised to come up with an Indianised version of Syd by mid this year. Staying true to their word, Continental has unveiled its concept SyD, customised specially for the Indian market.
Should you need a refresher on the Continental Simplify Your Drive technology, here's the link to our previous test drive report.
To my surprise, the same Volkswagen Passat has undergone a complete character change at Continental's Pune facility in couple of months. While the basics of SyD remain the same, the three drive profiles — Sport, Eco and Comfort — have been redesigned as Work Mode, Home Mode and Play Mode. Well, now let's find out what these three modes mean for Indian drivers.
Work Mode is designed with the business class in mind. The focal point is the rear of the car, assuming the car is chauffeur driven, with the owner seated in the back. On this mode, the car is tuned towards comfort, not performance. The instrument cluster displays very basic and chauffeur oriented information, while the rear seat multimedia screen provides news alerts, stock market quotes, flight details, calendar entries etc. thanks to high connectivity via Cloud technology. Most remarkably, the owner can send his exact location on the map to the car via SMS, thus helping the chauffeur reach the owner hassle freely. SyD also displays real-time flight details so that he can reach the pick-up point precisely when the owner walks out of the airport.
Based on key-identification, the 'home mode' is customised based on whether the car is owner or chauffer driven. The zones of the car change from a right-left conditioning of the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), to a front-rear focus, based on where the owner is seated. Audio focus and output are also adjusted accordingly. While the cluster screen shows important activities to be done in the city and at home, location based information such as places to dine and watch movies are displayed on secondary and rear screens.
Play Mode is virtually similar to the Sport Mode. The suspension and steering firms up, full power is released from the engine and transmission shifts later and closer to the upper end to the rev-range for extreme driving pleasure. Since this mode is solely developed for the owner of the car, the focus is on the front cabin. Joyful and vibrant colours on the screens create a fun and sporty ambiance in the cabin. Information regarding hobbies, parties and trips are displayed on secondary display and rear screens. Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning systems are activated to aid the drive. Animated drift indicator shows G-forces on every turn. There's a kids' zone that keeps them engaged, too.
What I really liked about the Simplify Your Drive technology is the 'Affordable Smartphone Integration' that allows the owner of the car to control various functions of the car and get necessary information via his mobile phone. It's nothing but an App that makes your smartphone a remote control to your car. Suppose your chauffeur is trying to drive on the Play Mode without you knowledge; the car instantly sends you an alert, you tap the Work Mode icon on your phone and the car changes the mode to 'Work'- how cool is that!
According to Mr. Tejas Desai, Head of Interior Electronics Solutions (IES), the car informs the owner via text messages about its current position and technical condition. This allows the owner of the car to monitor the driving patterns of his or her chauffeur, bringing a sense of security.
When the concept is ready for volume production, car manufacturers will be able to store their own as well as customer-specific settings in the vehicle according to the driving profiles. Continental claims that the SyD can be integrated even into a Tata Nano, but make no mistakes, they are not going to throw in a Play Mode or adjustable suspension into a Nano. A scaled down format of SyD for the small cars in India will be unveiled by Summer next year and by now we know Continental doesn't make fake promises.