New Commodore's gadgets spark complacency

FRESH ERA: Some of the new Commodore gadgetry is pretty cool but a heads-up display is an extra that is better for driving a fighter jet over the Persian Gulf than a road car.
FRESH ERA: Some of the new Commodore gadgetry is pretty cool but a heads-up display is an extra that is better for driving a fighter jet over the Persian Gulf than a road car. Lukas Coch

THE reviews for the new Holden Commodore VF have started rolling in and the overall verdict, so far, is pretty positive.

Given the amount of money that has gone into developing this new baby, a positive review here and there is probably the least that the Holden corporation needs if it is going to make a solid return on its investment.

Of course, the next thing they need, after the good reviews, is for everyday, budget-conscious Australians like you and I to fork out our hard-earned dollars on the things and then tell our family and friends to do the same.

From what I have observed recently Holden hasn't had quite as much trouble selling the Commodore as Ford has had selling the Falcon.

But they are both feeling the pinch.

For this you could blame the saturation of the car market and the general turning of the tide away from the big old family sedan.

Twenty years ago, Falcons and Commodores ruled the roads.

Now it's small SUVs, diesel dual-cab utes and miserly hatchbacks.

Some people believe fuel prices are to blame for the demise of the Falcon and Commodore, while others have pointed the finger at the major car makers' unwillingness to adapt with the times. On the other hand, the purists among us will argue that new cars are changing too much and should go back to their solid, reliable roots. This brings me to the new Commodore.

The new Commodore comes equipped with the type of gadgetry you might expect on a Mercedes-Benz.

Thrown in with the blind spot alert, parking assist and trailer sway control, is a heads-up display, effectively putting your dashboard meters on the lower part of the windscreen in a sort of translucent display.

My eyebrows reached new heights when I read, among Holden's own promotional material for the vehicle, that it comes equipped with a "forward collision alert", an alarm that sounds when a hazard is detected in front of the car.

I haven't driven the new Commodore yet, so I can't tell you how well these new gadgets work in a real-world situation, but let me suggest one thing.

There are times when car makers in general could probably save themselves a hell of a lot of coin by sticking to the basics and ignoring all the fancy gadgets in favour of strengthening the engine, suspension, brakes, seating and door and dash fittings.

Having a few extra safeguards is a good thing.

But who, honestly, hasn't been tempted to pull the wiring out of a car that won't stop beeping?

A heads-up display is a good idea if you are driving a fighter jet over the Persian Gulf, but unnecessary for a normal road vehicle.

Being able to park a car, look out for what's coming and be aware of your blind spots are all prerequisites for holding a licence.

I fear that any technology that negates the need for these skills is only going to make for complacent drivers.

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