I write this while sitting in a properly authentic dhabha (called Zimidara) in Sahnewal, near Ludhiana. I’ve been driving for about four hours now, and every time I undertake a road trip I vow to pen down my thoughts – but always end up forgetting. This time, though, I’m actually doing so on the first day of the road trip – and I’m going to start right now! You see, the previous government hasn’t really done a massively impressive job of enhancing the road infrastructure and national highways of our country. There are narrow diversions every couple of kilometers that do nothing but add to the frustration on the road, as movement is abrupt and slow. Very slow… Bringing the highway network to international standards is a distant dream, and one can’t do much but wait for it to happen – taking its own sweet time. I just hope that our grandkids will be able to enjoy the infrastructure that we dream about. Because the traffic movement on our highways is so erratic, and there are any number of elements that can cause accidents and fatalities, it’s always necessary to have a calm head, stay relaxed, and not force yourself into something stupid – like an irrational race with the guy going bonkers in the left lane. Fortunately, there are certain things that can help you keep your sanity intact. The car that you drive can actually go a long way towards improving the experience. Allow me to list a few items that should be made mandatory on all cars – the segment notwithstanding. You ought to have, without a shadow of doubt, good music. And because FM doesn’t catch everywhere, and even if it does, you invariably find RJ’s blabbering any manner of nonsense (I’m won’t go there, since it was the subject of my last column). So, you ought to rely on your trusty old iPod or USB stick. And this brings me to my first must-have item – music on the go in all formats possible. USB, iPod, SD Card, CD – all these formats should be available in all cars. No matter how much you try to be detached from the world, work always catches up with you and the phone doesn’t stop buzzing. Heard of Bluetooth? That’s your magic solution. As is ABS. You are a complete idiot if you say that you don’t drive beyond the official speed limit and therefore don’t need it. No matter how easy-going a chap you are on the road, you will at some point approach three digit speeds and will most certainly need the safety net of ABS. At some point or the other you will push the brake pedal deep into the carpet with some force. Without ABS, or the feet of Lewis Hamilton, the car will then proceed to lock up its wheels and tyres and send you careening into an accident. So ABS is a must! Here’s one more item that I hope all OEM’s will consider – steering adjust for both reach and rake. I’m a tallish chap, and to get into a proper driving position is a hassle for me in a lot of cars. If I’m able to find the right angle on my legs so that I reach the pedals properly, my hands always fall short of being nicely placed on the steering wheel. But a steering that you can tilt, and also adjust telescopically, is, more often than not, going to give you a much comfier experience when driving. A Bluetooth enabled multi-audio-format head unit, ABS, as well as tilt-and-telescopic adjustable steering wheel – is that really too much to ask? It’ll definitely keep you more relaxed (relatively speaking) behind the wheel, and that alone would be able to bring down accident numbers on the roads. It’s worth it, then – isn’t it? Or am asking for the moon – again?
Ashish makes a shortlist of must-haves in all cars - regardless of segment.
By Ashish Jha | on August 1, 2014
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