Why doesn’t every car have that? Every now and then we come across comfort or convenient features in new cars and wonder why all vehicles don’t do the same – or why nobody else has thought of it.
Some ideas are common sense, simple touches. Others need to be engineered in the car from the outset.
So we searched the archives – as well as gathered the best features of new cars on sale today – to arbitrarily come up with this Top 10 list.
Let us know in the comments below what new ideas you would like to see in new cars in the years ahead.
Footnote: we deliberately left out headlights that follow the direction of the steering (invented by Citroen half a century ago) because modern technology has addressed that with cornering light or matrix LEDs.
And 360 degree cameras have made redundant the retractable corner aerials that were once a feature on Mercedes limousines.
But everything else is fair game, so let us know what features you’d like to see more of in new cars of the future.
1. Work desk
Ford Australia was ahead of its time when it released an optional desk for the AU Falcon (above), then the sales rep’s vehicle of choice.
Unfortunately, the idea never really caught on (we have never seen one in real life, only in this media photo issued by Ford) and it was quietly discontinued with subsequent versions of the Falcon.
But Ford appears to have adopted a similar idea with the new F-150 pick-up. A retractable gear lever creates a flat work space to lay out a lap top (below). If it’s as simple as it seems, it’s genius.
Renault also offers optional desk space for it Trafic and Master vans, the latter sliding out of the dash above the glovebox (pictured at the top of this story). Unfortunately that option is not available in Australia.
Honda took the cake (so to speak) when it tucked a picnic table under the boot floor of the original CR-V family SUV. To make it fit, Honda had to engineer the picnic table into the process from the very beginning.
Unfortunately, the picnic table didn’t make it on later versions of the Honda CR-V, likely as cost-saving a measure.
But we would love to see something similar on future soft-roaders and getaway cars. Just like this next idea…
2. Wet storage area under the boot floor
The new Ford Puma city SUV has a large black bucket (above) where the spare tyre is supposed to be.
It has a drain plug, too, so if the beach gear is wet you can wash out the salt and sand and drain the water. Genius.
Now, if only we can find some way of also storing a spare tyre…
3. Umbrella holder in the door panel
Customers of the Volkswagen-owned Czech brand Skoda already know about this: a handy spot to store a collapsible umbrella in the driver’s door panel (above).
But we’re still amazed by this feature every time we see it: and so are friends and family who spot the hidden umbrella when we happen to have a Skoda test car.
Surely Skoda doesn’t own the market on this idea. More ideas like this please.
4. Parking ticket holder
We’re not sure who was first with this idea or who copied who, but we do know both Volvo and Skoda cars (above) have a handy plastic tab on the lower edge of the windscreen to make sure your parking docket doesn’t blow off the dash when you close the door.
Seriously? How expensive could this part be? Why does every new car not have this?
5. A cargo light that doubles as a torch
Another brilliant idea from Skoda here. The rear cargo lamp for many of its hatches and wagons is removable and rechargeable (above), so you can grab it to search for stuff in the bottom of your luggage – or whatever other nook and cranny is hard to see at night.
Who invented this? Did they a pay rise or a promotion? Why has no-one copied this yet? If you’ve seen something similar in a new car and we’ve not spotted it, please let us know in the comments section below.
6. Front seats that fold completely flat
The new Ford F-150 pick-up is available in the US with optional front seats that fold completely flat (above) like a business class seat on a plane.
It is illegal and unsafe for the front seat passenger to recline the seat this far back when the vehicle is being driven (because then the seatbelt is not properly fitted across the driver).
However, the fully flat seats come in handy if the driver needs a decent nap on a long distance drive, or gets to their destination in the early hours of the morning.
We reckon hire car drivers would love seats like these, given all their down time and odd hours.
7. Door edge protectors
A number of car brands – we know of at least Ford and Skoda – have this feature on certain models: a slim vertical strip of rubber that “pops” out as you open any of the side doors (above), to minimise dents on closely parked cars.
Granted, other drivers are getting the benefit rather than you most of the time, however it is handy for people who park in narrow garage spaces.
They can fling to door open knowing it’s not going to chip the paint, as it will be protected by the rubber strip.
We’ve tried to open and close doors really fast in a lame attempt to trick it (a bit like seeing if the fridge light goes off when you close the door) and this has kept us amused for hours.
However, clearly there is some kind of clever mechanism that is dependent on the door hinge opening and closing. Genius in its simplicity.
8. Power to the tailgate
This is exclusive to utes. While a number of brands have a 12V power socket to the ute tray (available on certain variants of the Ford Ranger and Volkswagen Amarok, for example) Ford has gone one step further in the US.
The new F-150 pick-up has the option of a mains power outlets to run power tools. Given our love of utes in Australia, this idea could take off here, too.
9. Underseat storage in utes
Double cab utes are capable of a lot of things. They can tow up to 3500kg, carry up to 1 tonne, clamber off-road and in some cases even deliver SUV-like levels of comfort and technology.
But they have hardly anywhere to store valuables other than the glovebox, centre console, or door pockets.
High end versions of the VW Amarok have a sliding tray under the front seats, but we reckon there’s an opportunity for better space utilisation under the back seats.
Most double cab utes have a couple of crevices to store bottle jacks and a small packet of tools, but we need to make enough space here to store a laptop bag or other valuables. Please.
10. Ultra-wide view mirror on the sun visor
This idea is exclusive to vans (for now). And as far as we’re aware only Renault (and the Mitsubishi Express twin) offer this feature.
In addition to the large dual lens side mirrors, Renault equips most of its vans with a foil-like material on the back of the passenger-side sun visor (above and below).
When angled correctly you can spot cars and bikes in this mirror that the twin lenses might not pick up. Brilliant. More like this please.
What are your ideas?
The above are just 10 ideas we found after a quick poll in the office. What ideas have you spotted on new cars that you reckon all vehicles should have?
Better still, feel free to share with us some ideas you’ve not yet seen yet on a new car.