Since the late 70s, an epic battle has been fought between Petrolheads and Technobrains – the former hoping to keep computer-controls out of cars, with the latter championing the digital cause.
And the Technobrains won.
Today, high-tech electronics have taken over most of the monitoring systems under the bonnet (you should really check your own oil, though – use the long stick bit). Commanding the engine isn’t enough for some, however, including the designers at Pioneer and Smart – they’re striving to digitalise everything underneath the sunroof.
The latest weapon in the electronic onslaught is the smart fortwo ICE edition – a car pimped out with enough interior electronics to make even Westwood cringe. The electronics, provided by Pioneer, have two priorities: big sound and big driving aids.
To win over your ears, Pioneers has included Kevlar midbass drivers and silk dome tweeters, alongside a brand new TS-WX210A active subwoofer – audio components better suited for a studio than a smart car.
The music is controlled by the AVIC-F920BT navigation and multimedia headunit, which also connects to your iPod or iPhone to display album artwork, track listings, playlists – while you DJ it all via the touchscreen.
It also includes Pioneer’s brand new MusicSphere technology, which allows you to select tracks according to your mood or journey type. Songs are automatically analysed and categorised by tempo, rhythm, vocal line and pitch, creating up to 40 different playlists from an iTunes library.
If you’re interested in giving this a go (Samsung used to make a similar product, but it never really took off), Pioneer have a philanthropy division that allows non-Smart buyers to download MusicSphere for free from the company’s website: www.pioneer.co.uk/musicsphere.
In addition to the multimedia elements, the system also does navigation with premium features. Most interesting of all is the ECO Graph package, which works out how economical your driving performance is. By analysing your driving style, particularly your breaking, revs and acceleration, the software can estimate your CO2 emissions and guilt you into driving more responsibly.
It also offers more standard features, such as pre-warnings about traffic jams and accidents, as well as highlighting more than six million points of interest in 44 countries, such as cash machines or petrol stations.
Oh, there are electric windows, too.
If all this technology has sold you, and you want to be a standard-bearer for the Technobrains advance into Petrolhead territory, you should consider that there are only 200 smart fortwo ICE edition models created in the UK: 140 micro hybrid drive petrol versions and 60 diesel versions, so best be quick.