14 Mar 2013

What annoys you about your car?

Matt Hubbard highlights some annoying and irritating features of various cars and asks what irritates you about your car?

The Mercedes B Class is a superbly designed, albeit slightly ugly, car.  But it has one major flaw.  The brake pedal is simply too close to the seat for anyone over 5 foot 6 to get comfortable.  You have to bring your knee up to simply get your foot on the pedal.

Humans vary in size - short, tall, fat, thin - and most cars accommodate these various sizes.  I recently spent a long time on the M25 going nowhere fast and spent an entertaining few minutes seeing how far the electrically adjustable seat in my Audi would go up, down, forwards and back.  The answer is lots.  The S4 can accommodate everyone from 5 foot nothing to 7 feet quite comfortably.  

But some cars just don't seem to be up to the job of dealing with us all.  In fact some cars that are otherwise flawless feature annoying little features.  My S4's heater controls go up in 0.5 degree intervals so when you want to go from, say 18°C to 26°C you have to press the button 16 times.  This irritates me, although I'm sure many would think I was being OCD (and you'd be correct).

Take Jaguar's brilliant XF.  It looks fantastic and the interior is heavenly.  Yet Mr Callum deigned to design a crease in the centre console plastic - the bit next to where your left knee rests (on RHD cars) so  the knee is resting against a sharp line rather than a flat surface, and after a while this becomes annoying.

The new Range Rover features a similarly not very well thought through grab-handle that also tends to be just there when you corner.  Not annoying at first but after a few bends starts to irritate, and then gets really annoying.

The Range Rover Evoque is another example of a great car with an irritating feature.  Open the window halfway at over 60mph and the interior of the cabin is filled with pulsating, buffeting air as it travels round the car looking for escape but failing to find it.  This makes your head wobble slightly and your ears pop.

Subaru Outbacks feature pillar-less windows.  They look great but the corner of the window is quite sharp and you often don't notice it as you faff about near the car - and stab yourself in the chest area.  This happened to me about, oooh, twenty times when I owned one.

And then there are the cars whose hatchback doors seem designed to accumulate dirt during the winter months.  So when you come to open the boot your fingers inevitably get covered in grime.  The Golf is a particular culprit in this regard.

And talking of boots my old Passat estate's boot seemed to have been designed purely to dribble water on my head when I opened it after it had been raining.

The Audi TT is a fine looking car with a low roof but one that gives plenty of headroom, except it curves in at the sides so when you turn your head you bang it on the roof every single time.

On the matter of roofs the Jaguar XK convertible is one of the finest grand tourers on the road.  But the top of the windscreen is so low that you bang your forehead on it constantly (and the F-Type's looks similarly raked)

BMW E91 diesels have a narrower fuel filler hole than the petrol models so you can't put petrol in it by mistake.  The problem is it's so narrow that some diesel pumps don't fit in properly so you hold the fuel nozzle just in the hole and it doesn't click when it's full - showering you in diesel.

VW Golf MK4s seats manually adjust but the clicks on the adjuster are so far apart that the perfect setting would be equidistant between two of the clicks.

Billions of pounds, dollars, euros are spent designing our cars but often small annoyances like the ones described above are either forgotten about or not spotted during testing.  

Which leaves me to ask - what annoys you about your car?