The Singapore Car Show last month may have introduced some innovations in car design, but there are more unique new features that go beyond high-tech AI functions that act like Google’s Alexa, or even comfort add-ons like massage chairs. Some manufacturers, over the years, have been a little bit more inventive with the add-ons. Here are some cars with even more interesting features which may seem like overkill for a car.
VR gaming in the car
Audi’s soon-to-be-released electric E-Tron SUV incorporates virtual reality (VR) for its in-car entertainment. Combining Holoride technology and Disney games, rear passengers get to be literally immersed in games like Rocket Racoon and Iron Man while equipped with Oculus Rift VR glasses and a nunchuck-like remote – the games actually sync with the car’s movements.
A bird-spotting car
The 2019 Subaru Ascent actually comes with an ‘eBird’ function – it literally alerts birdwatchers in the car to local sightings and where to find the birds, based on crowdsourced information via their ‘Starlink’ system. But if bird-watching isn’t a priority, at least the car has 19 cup/bottle holders and eight USB charging ports across its three rows of seats.
Programmed scent release
Gone are the days when cars either smell like powerful car freshener, or the dankiest must. In the 2018 Mercedes S63 AMG Cabriolet, there’s actually an in-car air fragrance system that lets out varying levels of scent through its climate control. The little jars of fragrance fit in a slot in the glovebox, controlled via the Mercedes COMAND settings.
Designed for fly-fishing
In what is probably the most niche of offerings, a special edition of Bentley Bentayga comes with a luxurious leather-trimmed Fly Fishing trunk set – with four hand-made rods and other paraphernalia – at a mere £80,000 pricier than the standard car. It also includes fishing clothing (and a waterproof trunk to store it) and built-in dehumidifier to keep the car’s interior dry.
Event seats with hanging legrests
In 2015, Range Rover came up with the SVAutobiography, proclaimed as a luxury SUV with a plush interior that includes “deep twist pile mohair carpet mats.” And then there’s the leather-and-brushed-aluminum folding “Event Seating” which hang from the tailgate, hand-crafted from “beautiful Windsor leather”, presumably for watching horse races while eating caviar.
Built-in vacuum cleaner
Only available in the USA, the 2014 Honda Odyssey actually comes with a built-in HondaVAC – a vacuum cleaner hose that actually sucks up all the mess in the car. It’s neatly tucked into the side of the car’s cargo area, and requires no external power source (though it probably drains the car battery).
In-car coffee maker
For the coffee hound who needs frequent caffeine jolts, the 2012 Fiat 500L has a solution: an in-car coffee maker. Basically it’s a 500L cup holder-sized pocket that fits a Lavazza 500 Espresso Machine (it’s specially built for the car) which you simply add a coffee pod and some water into, and the machine will brew your coffee while you drive.
Built-in luxury umbrella
Several Rolls-Royce models have custom-built slots in the cross section of their doors specifically to house their own-branded umbrellas – these slots have drain passages and drying mechanism so that a wet umbrella is dried when the car moves. These umbrellas are not only well-designed, but also cost a whopping US$700!
Shower option in the car
Adventurous drivers who had a Honda CR-V in the early 2000s had the option to add a powered shower attachment, which was a kit consisting of a water jug, hose, showerhead and a 12-volt pump powered by the car. You simply mounted the showerhead on the open tailgate/boot, making it high enough for someone to have a shower.
Ice-maker in the car
While there are many options for portable ice makers that you plug into cars today, the 1984 Toyota Van actually had a built-in one as an optional trimming. The shoebox-size ice maker is powered by its air-conditioner refrigerant lines and came with spill-proof ice trays. The Van became known as Previa in the 1990s, and the ice-maker/refrigerator doubled as a beverage heater called the Hot/Cool Box.
Scooter built for the car
While e-scooters are all over Singapore, it was already a thing way back in 1981. In fact, Honda created a foldable 50cc scooter called Motocompo which was designed to fit into the trunk the subcompact Honda City. The scooter made a comeback in 2011 with MOTOR COMPO, which invokes the spirit of its predecessor, and features a removable battery for use as an emergency power source.