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Beat the traffic with these 5 car features

2017-06-29 06:00

Traffic is an unavoidable reality for most commuting South Africans. Our spatial geography is a mess and our city planners face severe challenges to address the problem. A major satellite navigation system manufacturer reckons the average South African loses about 90 working hours a year, sitting in traffic. The good news is that there is a wide variety of technological solutions to help ease the burden of an old-fashioned snarl-up.

An automatic gearbox:

No matter how light and perfectly snickety-snick the modern manual gearbox might be, endless clutch- control in heavy traffic is bad for your clutch and less than joyful for your left leg. Modern automatics are a slick-shifting, super-intelligent shadow of the woeful slushmatics of yesteryear, meaning that the petrolhead purists can opt for the auto without feeling they’re settling for second best. Some dual-clutch automatics are actually more fuel-efficient than an old-fashioned manual, but in any case, many people are willing to sacrifice a few drops of fuel to the gods of comfort and convenience.

AutoTrader recommends: The Volkswagen Polo Hatch 1.2TSI Highline Auto (equipped with VW’s winning DSG transmission).

Autonomous tech

Yes, it’s here and, yes, it’s expensive, but it’s a technology that’s going to utterly revolutionize the way we get around. In 1999 Mercedes-Benz released something called Distronic on the S-Class of the time, an adaptive cruise control system that locks onto the car in front using radar. Today, that technology is available on a VW Golf, and in the more expensive cars there are now systems that will steer, accelerate and brake for you. A game changer in this regard, is the more affordable Opel Astra hatchback – the upper-spec Sport variants come equipped with this technology. Autonomous braking will also bring your car to a halt, if the system thinks you’re too busy on Twitter to notice the vehicle in front of you has stopped.

Other more premium cars to consider (with similar safety tech):  Volvo XC90, Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Live traffic updates in your satnav

Whereas in the old days satnav was for when you didn’t know how to get somewhere, in this case it’s for navigating traffic. That means you put your home address into the satnav on your way home from work, despite the fact that you already know the way. It’ll use up-to-the-minute satellite traffic information to offer you unusual ways home that diverge from the shortest, traffic-clogged routes and will rather get you there quicker. These systems can save hours in a week if used regularly.

Of course, many of the premium German cars such as the BMW 420d receive technology like this. In the new Mercedes-Benz GLA, for example, you can tick this box when you opt for the Garmin MAP PILOT (R14 200).

The internet

Obviously we’re not proposing that you scroll through Instagram while at the wheel, but a smartphone linked to your car’s stereo system via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto - combined with a hefty data package - is a powerful entertainment and education tool. You can listen to any radio station on earth, you can download or stream whatever music you might fancy, you can learn a language, or tune into your favourite podcasts. Additionally, you can get a bunch of phone calls out of the way in the traffic, using – if it has it – voice control software, which is becoming available in more and more cars. All of this is doable, while you can safely keep your eyes on the road.

AutoTrader recommends: The new and very competitively priced Renault Sandero Stepway 66kW Dynamique

A driver

The most low-tech and expensive solution to traffic is the most effective by far. Until cars are fully autonomous, a driver or chauffeur remains the most effective traffic-buster money can buy. Sit in the back and work on your tablet or laptop, dial into meetings and be as engaged and as busy as you would be at the office. It’ll depend on your pay grade and the value of your time, but if you’ve done an hour’s work by the time you get to the office, slayed your emails and had a meeting, the chances are your day is off to a good start. From a business perspective, instead of leaving your expensive asset (the car) parked up all day with your employee (the driver) kicking his heels, rather send them out to work the Uber network. The whole system can pay for itself!

Type of car you should consider:  Toyota Corolla Sedan

Need a new or upgrade on your car to help ease the commute, as you tackle the traffic every day? Head over to AutoTrader to find your next car. AutoTrader South Africa has been the leading media market space for the past 25 years for buying and selling vehicles. Whether you are looking to buy a brand new car or are in the market for a pre-loved model, AutoTrader has over 71 000 cars to choose from to suit your tastes and needs. Find your perfect car on AutoTrader.

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