The world is moving in a concerning direction. Every day a new device is created to make life easier. Instead of brewing coffee by crushing beans and boiling milk, there are coffee machines. Travelators are supposed to move us quicker through airports, but most people just stand there, letting the machine do the work for them. Calculators have killed off our ability to do quick mental maths. And instead of going to a dictionary to find the meaning of a word, we just say “Hey Google...”
The automotive world isn’t much better. We used to change gears ourselves, being involved with the machine, and learning when the most optimal time to swap ratios was, either by sound or by feel. But now we’re losing that ability.
Rather than learning how to change a wheel ourselves, we’re now getting roadside assistance to do it for us. Instead of servicing a car, we get dealers to do it, and even worse, we now don’t even travel to the dealer – we get mobile mechanics to come to us. Next thing you know, we’ll be getting machines to exercise for us.
Ever see the movie Wall-E? It seems like we’re going down the path of those giant, blubber-filled humans who have nothing to do but get machines to work for us the whole time. And there was one part of a car that really made that apparent recently.
The test car for the week was the Jaguar XE. A very accomplished mid-size luxury vehicle, this one was the 2.0-litre turbo petrol four-cylinder, the 25t R-Sport. While the engine is good enough, there’s not quite enough power to really make it come alive, however the chassis is sublime.
Great steering, nicely finished interior (except one little squeak from the centre stack), excellent seats and plenty of conveniences – all’s well, then. But when it came time to put something in the boot, my thoughts turned to how lazy we’ve become.
Pressing the little button just at the top of the numberplate recess revealed that the boot lid is electric. And to close it, there’s also a button which draws it shut and electrically latches it. Now, it’s understandable on a huge off-road machine like the Range Rover Sport. But there are issues with that setup as well.
There’s always the argument that an electric tailgate is good for short people. But that only holds up if the tailgate activates from the key (which some cars don’t). If it doesn’t, then someone who isn’t tall, isn’t going to be able to reach the button used to close it, which is often on the bottom of the tailgate. If you can reach the button (by jumping), you can grab the tailgate to close it. That’s why some tailgates have handles to pull them down.
Then there’s the argument that it takes a lot of effort to pull shut an SUV’s tailgate, and some people aren’t strong enough. And that’s a fair comment. But all of these points of view evaporate when it comes to a sedan. The boot lid isn’t heavy, and it isn’t high up, so literally anyone who is able to drive the XE is able to close it themselves.
Are we now so lazy that we can’t shut a boot? It’s a sad state of affairs where able-bodied individuals demand such options to feel like they have a bit of luxury in their lives. There’s nothing wrong with a bit of opulence, but let’s take a bit more pride in how well our bodies have been made. After all, a little exercise never hurt anyone.