Recommended technology to look for in used prestige, luxury, 4x4 and sports cars
30 September 2019
The car world is in an excellent phase between pioneering strides having resulted in some truly impressive technology for not just luxury but also mainstream models, and the time when autonomous or ‘driverless’ cars will be seen on the world’s roads in increasing numbers.
As one of the UK’s long-established specialists in hand-picked prestige, 4x4 and sports cars, our discerning customers often ask us whether various cars in our showroom stock are fitted with certain features. One compelling advantage of buying a used/preowned car with low mileage is that they are often equipped with many of the latest technology features but have already depreciated. We round up some of the technology highlights to look for when searching for used Audi, Bentley, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus, Mercedes, Porsche, Range Rover and other prestige models.
Android Auto and Apply CarPlay smartphone sync compatibility
Smartphones have become an inextricable part of our lives and while it’s quite rightly illegal to use a mobile phone on the move for texting, apps or anything else that isn’t a hands-free call over Bluetooth, it’s certainly handy to be able to use some of a device’s functions more safely courtesy of a car’s infotainment touchscreen. Cue Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, introduced in 2015 and 2014 respectively, the latter making extensive use of the Siri voice assistant system and interestingly making its debut in a Ferrari FF, while Google’s system was first offered and supported in a Hyundai.
Prestige car-buyers requiring Android Auto or Apple CarPlay compatibility from a used vehicle therefore need to look at examples no older than model year 2014, but it naturally depends on the make and model being searched for. BMW was relatively slow to incorporate Apple CarPlay, it first appearing on the options lists for the X5M and X6M introduced in the second half of 2016. In fairness, Mercedes also waited until MY16 to bring CarPlay to its lineup, through the then-new A-Class hatchback, with Honda and other Asian manufacturers faster to the mark.
Munich has recently announced that it will charge an annual subscription fee. Apple charges manufacturers between £45 and £90 per car, so it’s arguably fair that OEMs are passing these charges on to consumers, with BMW having explained that its latest iDrive OS7 infotainment system, as featured in the new 1-Series M135i for example, is more complex than before, and will now benefit from ‘features over the air’ software updates.
Tesla, whose electric cars are known for their strong emphasis on technology with iPad tablet-like dashboard touchscreens that control almost every function, have ironically not offered Android Auto or CarPlay integration on their Model S and X cars so far and aren’t likely to in the future. However, Elon Musk’s new Model 3 compact saloon to compete with the BMW 3 Series et al does now talk with Apple Siri, although voice control functionality is limited to operations like locking and unlocking, sounding the horn and locating the car, with no ability to adjust climate settings using Siri.
The all-electric Porsche Taycan impressively comes with a standard Apple music app but won’t offer Android Auto support in parallel despite also being a technology-rich showcase, which is reportedly because Porsche identifies 85% of its drivers as using iPhones.
It will be a while before a used electric Tesla Model 3 or Porsche Taycan appears in our hand-picked showroom, but Leama Specialist Cars of Cheshire often has a selection of Porsche Panamera hybrid and Tesla Model S vehicles in stock. We also work as a car leasing brokerage so would be delighted to identify the best Porsche and Tesla lease offers across the market for our customers. The Further Details, Vehicle Information and Specification sections of our preowned luxury, prestige and sports vehicle listings typically indicate whether Android Auto and/or Apple CarPlay preparation is an included feature, but our experienced used car sales advisors will be happy to advise anyone who is unsure.
Wireless phone charging
Staying on the subject of smartphones, more and more handsets and vehicles are concurrently boasting wireless or ‘induction’ charging functionality, which basically means that compatible phones’ batteries can be topped up by placing them on a pad typically located in the centre cubby between the front seats, or between the gearstick and the bottom of the dashboard.
Wireless charging is implemented in line with Qi and PMA standards and saves drivers and passengers having to remember USB or Apple Lightning connector cables in order to keep their phones charged while in the car. The Chevrolet Bolt EV was the first car to demonstrate inductive pad-charging in concept form before the technology’s consumer debut in the Toyota Avalon, followed by the 2015 Audi Q7 SUV and 2016 A4 saloon and Avant plus the Lexus NX in close succession.
The best infotainment systems and digital instrument clusters
Volvo’s Sensus Connect offering with its portrait-oriented tablet flanked by vertical chrome air vents not dissimilar to in a Bentley may look effortlessly stylish in Sweden’s typically minimalist way and comes with free map updates, but it’s not the easiest system to operate on the move, including the car’s climate settings.
The Teutonic trio’s infotainment platforms are arguably the best and most recommended, with all three now enabling numbers and letters to be drawn using your finger. With the latest version of Audi MMI Touch Response, the handwriting is done on the lower of the two touchscreens. With BMW iDrive, which is now in its most intuitive form yet including programmable hot-key shortcuts, it’s the rotary controller that accepts handwritten commands, while Mercedes’ new MBUX system as debuted in the new A-Class provides a relatively large touchpad.
MBUX also boasts what is probably the best voice assistant on the new car market today, impressively based on in-house technology and offering responsiveness as intelligent as the likes of Alexa and Echo any day, even able to react to indirect commands like a driver or passenger mentioning that they’re feeling cold. Placing the large HD touchscreen seamlessly next to the digital instrument display makes the latest Mercedes E-Class (from 2017 on), S-Class and other models feel special and sure to excite technophiles, but MBUX is currently slightly too new to feature on many of the hand-picked and meticulously checked used Mercedes that Leama of Knutsford specialises in, as is Audi’s latest setup with its primary and secondary touchscreens positioned in a stack.
As the best all-round infotainment and digital cluster combination found in a wider range of preowned, low-mileage prestige cars of up to four years of age, Audi MMI Touch plus Virtual Cockpit is hard to fault in our view, combining intuitiveness and connected technology with superbly crisp visuals, especially when Google Earth is selected for sat nav mapping.
Adaptive cruise control
Leama are used Mercedes specialists and first became familiar with a forerunner to today’s ubiquitous adaptive cruise control (ACC) and similarly-named safety suites in the form of Distronic that the Stuttgart firm first offered way back in 1999 in the CL-Class and C-Class. Mercedes’ system was the first to incorporate radar and a whole host of other car-makers were quick to follow suit including the BMW 7 Series in 2000, Audi A8 in 2002, BMW 5 Series in 2007 and so on.
Cruise control is fine but quickly proves frustrating on today’s congested roads, as it deactivates when the driver presses the accelerator or brake pedal, so typically disengages during overtaking. Adaptive cruise control, otherwise referred to as autonomous, intelligent, radar cruise control or by some other name removes the need for the driver to continuously adjust the vehicle’s speed using the pedals when, for example, another vehicle pulls into the lane just ahead. It works by using lasers and/or radars to scan in front of the car and maintain the preselected speed and following distance as closely as possible, slowing the car down where necessary and then automatically accelerating again when circumstances safely allow – without requiring any driver input and hence bringing an element of semi-autonomy to proceedings, making motorway journeys in particular more relaxing as well as safer.
Adaptive cruise control is a highly recommended driver convenience and safety system well worth looking for while browsing Leama’s selection of meticulously-checked used Audi, Bentley, BMW, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lexus, Maserati, Mercedes, Porsche, Range Rover and other prestige models. It’s also commonly found on many family cars like the Volkswagen Golf, with Bosch and VW continuing to pour resources into ever-improving their ACC suites.
Cooled and massage seats
Heated seats may be commonplace across the spectrum of cars, from budget and mainstream to prestige and luxury models, but upholstery with an additional cooling or ventilation option is highly desirable and worth searching for amongst used car specifications.
Scandinavian car manufacturers are renowned for their supremely comfortable seats and it was Saab rather than Volvo that first introduced ventilated seats, the difference between them and cooled seats being that the former blows air into the seat’s chambers through a number of fans, while the latter blows air over a cooled surface before directing it into the seat itself, right through the fabric or leather.
Used prestige cars with cooling or ventilating seats that frequently pass through Leama’s Knutsford dealership and on to delighted customers include most of the Mercedes-Benz range from the C-Class in saloon, estate, coupe and cabriolet guises through to the CL-Class, S-Class, SL roadster and G-Wagen, and also other models in popular demand such as the Audi A7, Q5 and S8, the BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe and the Rolls-Royce Ghost, a stunning example of which we sold recently.
Massage seats are another specification option worth identifying in a used prestige car, providing added pampering on long journeys. Such a feature will increase the monthly rental of a lease car, highlighting one of the benefits of buying a preowned luxury car hand-picked and meticulously checked by a specialist like Leama of Cheshire.
Models commonly equipped with massaging seats include the BMW 7-Series with rear massage in the long-wheelbase (LWB) version, Range Rover in SVAutobiography and other trims, the Jaguar XJ, the Audi A8 and the Mercedes S-Class with several massage settings based on ‘hot stone’ principles including back and shoulder programmes, activating, classic, mobilising and active workout massages.
HUD, as they’re abbreviated to, have perhaps surprisingly been around since the late 1980s, debuting in models from General Motors (GM) and other American car firms, and it was BMW that first introduced a head-up display to the European prestige car market in 2004 with the 5 Series and its ConnectedDrive system. Early HUD mainly only showed the car’s speed but advances in technology now mean that today’s heads-up displays provide other information like fuel range and economy, G-force, speed limits and other road sign prompts, and sat nav directions.
Some manufacturers like Peugeot Citroen (PSA, which now owns Vauxhall) use a physical piece of motorised plastic that flips up between the dashboard and windscreen, while other car-makers project digital data directly onto the windscreen, a prime example being the new Range Rover Evoque with full colour HD.
Head-up displays are sought after by some drivers when searching for their next used prestige, premium, luxury or sports car, often because they enable more of a car’s performance to be enjoyed safely, with eyes fixed on the road ahead rather than glancing down at the instrument cluster or infotainment screen.
Used cars that Leama Specialist Cars of Knutsford in Cheshire typically sells equipped with a HUD include the Audi A7, BMW 7 Series and i8 plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), Mercedes C-Class and GLC and the Range Rover Sport from model years 2015, 2016 and 2017.
With the preowned prestige, sports and luxury cars we sell typically being four to two years’ old and many of them low-mileage examples with a known provenance as they were formerly sold by us, there is clearly an impressive array of technology to look for when searching stocklists – and the cars we will sell over the coming years are set to become even more technologically rich, connected and autonomous. Find your next car today in our online showroom.