For many owners of newer German sedans, it can be a little frustrating booking in their cars for a Porsche service or BMW scheduled maintenance check. Why? Well, especially in the cases of our more mature clients, many of you spent your younger years working on your own cars.
As we have covered previously, this is harder to do than ever before. Specialized tools, code-readers, etc are now required to understand and work on newer models. However, there are pros and cons to everything, and in the case of your modern car, in most ways you are piloting a product that leaves its older counterpart for dead. Yes, a certain charm harbored by the E30 BMW 3 Series can never be replicated in the current version, but on paper it is a non-contest.
Let’s look at just a few of the ways your modern car is just better.
Your New Car Can Save Your Life
Crash safety has grown into what is almost a sub-industry in the motoring sphere, with advances quick to be shared or duplicated between manufacturers. A lack of adequate safety gear just doesn’t cut it anymore, and with frames and passenger cells designed to absorb a high percentage of energy from a crash, your modern car is a much better place to be than its predecessors. In one of the more extreme old vs. new crash tests conducted by the IIHS (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety), a Chevrolet Bel Air is pulverized by its modern counterpart.
Mechanics of yesteryear had to contend with carburetors and ignition-points to maintain the smooth mechanical operation of your car. It was an imperfect process and often, pre- fuel-injected cars would be running inefficiently. Today, computerization means that your engine is always operating optimally, and if it isn’t, an app on your mobile device can alert you to an issue. Diagnostics has also made for an improved preventative maintenance process.
Smarter, Smoother Transmissions
Remember three-speed automatic transmissions? Neither can we. Yet, these used to be commonplace a few decades ago, doing service in everything from budget hatchbacks to more luxurious executives. Back in the late 1970’s, Porsche’s quirky Sportomatic (with a vacuum-operated single-disc dry clutch), was about as advanced as gearboxes got, and it still only had three forward gears before being discontinued in 1980. Today, Porsche offers its incredible seven-speed PDK with effortlessly fast changes. Over at Mercedes-Benz, you’ll now find their 9-speed automatic doing service in several models. In all cases, automatic transmissions have ditched excessive hunting and power-sapping habits to extract the very best from your engine. The manual transmission has struggled to keep up.
Of course, all newer cars are far better equipped than their forbears. In the U.S, where long road trips are possible, the revolution of sound systems in the car is one of the most appreciated. Where your AM/FM radio with a cassette deck used to be it, today you can play music without carting around ungainly cassettes or CD holder bags. It is now possible to tell your car what song to play for you thanks to voice recognition, while Bluetooth pairing and the likes of Apple CarPlay mean effortlessly connecting your in-pocket music library to any new car in seconds. Yes, you can even hear how far we’ve come, but in other ways, you can’t…
Build Quality, Materials, and Insulation
While some older cars are perceived as more ‘solid’, this mostly comes down to their heavier body panels but doesn’t actually translate into better solidity. Your modern car is more tightly screwed together than ever before, and you won’t find the same inconsistent panel gaps that you would on older models thanks to improved manufacturing facilities and techniques. Insulation and NVH (Noise, Vibration and Harshness) levels are such that even a Volkswagen Polo glides along the highway quietly. In your German executives, it’s often hard to detect any engine noise at all. While some see this as a more clinical and less involved approach, others appreciate that serenity.
Lightweight materials, turbocharging, automatic start-stop, and advanced transmissions have improved gas mileage to their best levels ever. The downsizing trend (today’s 330i is a 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder; compare this with the E46 or E90 versions, which were both 3.0-liter sixes) also means that high performance sports cars don’t have to come at the expense of poor economy.
In what way do you think the modern car has improved the most? Let us know on our Facebook page!