Some recent time in a sparsely appointed B7 Audi S4 has us pondering both what we do and don't "got," and really what we don't particularly miss about modern cars.
When it comes to audio, for example, iPod/phone integration is a true advancement. We've got a 6 disc changer in the Audi, and the very audible mechanical activity and associated delay as it moves between cd's is cause for a good laugh, at least. If the needle dropped to signal the start of the newly selected disc we wouldn't be surprised.
Along the same lines, the bluetooth and hands free calling is a noteworthy absence made all the more impactful by that 6 speed shifter thing you might have noticed in the picture above.
The integration of vehicle status information into a central screen is a modern perk, and so too are backup/parking sensors/cameras. But often times the numerous menus, submenus and options in that central screen obscure the useful information and features.
For one thing, the climate screen is a maddening and totally superfluous digital redundancy. Hot, cold, sweaty, shivering... Just some knobs and tactile controls to feel my way out of discomfort is good enough, thanks.
The Audi has also made us realize that keyless entry and start is a resounding positive, although there is something to be said for the satisfaction of twisting a key to bring 8 cylinders to life.
But really, we're not missing the majority of current tech all that much. The old Audi actually offers most of what you really need to know in the basic central digital instrument cluster. Miles until empty, gas mileage (pretty woeful in the B7 S4, by the way), time/date, trip time, etc. Works for us.
And given the option, we wouldn't choose to disrupt the very clean, very visibility-friendly dash with an iDrive-esque dash hump.
If nothing else, the return to circa '04 technology in the Audi reminds us that a technology surplus in cars isn't necessarily synonymous with experiential advancement. At least for those of us who value driving in itself.
Every vehicle engineering department should probably include both techies (Google goggle types) that seek to create a world in which finger tapping is the primary physical activity, and geezers who want nothing to do with any of it. Meeting somewhere in the middle of these two viewpoints will probably result in the best end product for the majority of customers.
And if you have any spare cd's, feel free to send them our way.