A study at Brunel University has found that modern design has rendered cars so quiet that their ‘lack of feel’ makes them potentially life threatening.
The research blames reduced engine and road noise, and a lack of steering feel for the increased “isolation” of the driver from their environment. Drivers of old cars were found to be more in tune with the way they were interacting with the road.
As someone who has driven vehicles ranging from a World War Two Jeep through to a 2007-designed Audi I can certainly see what they mean.
Modern cars, while great at what they do, have a certain habit of alluring you to speeds far above what you expect to see on the speedometer when you look down. A lot of the drama taking place at the road surface is filtered out by modern cars.
Brunel’s Dr Walker explains: “Driving is a complex and dynamic activity. With the advent of new technologies, which remove vehicle feedback and change the driver’s role, we need to be careful we don’t make drivers the equivalent of passengers in their own cars, who are not necessarily in control, or aware of and anticipating changes on the road environment.”
It’s an interesting theory. Do engineers need to start building back in some ‘old car’ feel? Are cars so ‘good’ now that we are travelling far too fast when we misjudge the road?