A fear of the dark is a human phobia going back thousands of years, if experts can be believed, originating with our cave-dwelling ancestors who feared animal attacks after the sun set.
Not much has changed today – many people (of all ages) still feel that primeval fear when darkness falls, even if it usually concerns other people rather than sabre-toothed tigers. For some, that fear solidifies when they get behind the wheel, worrying about night blindness, hitting pedestrians or getting into an accident.
If you’re thinking about changing your wheels and you’re in the hunt for something powerful and sporty, you probably won’t look for a Kia. Granted the South Korean firm has come on leaps and bounds in recent years (style wise at least), much like Hyundai or Skoda, but it’s more of a family brand than anything else. Until now.
Technically we’ve known about the Kia Stinger GT (not to be confused with the Grand Theft Auto version) for a few years now, but Kia has officially debuted its efforts at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, a very tasty rear wheel drive, four door saloon, which looks like a combination of an Audi, Jaguar and just a little pinch of Maserati.
Although Ireland’s winters are far milder than, say, Alaska, driving in icy and slushy conditions is no fun, and often quite dangerous. And, because we don’t spend too long each year in these sketchy conditions, many Irish drivers are not really sure how to prepare for a potentially treacherous stretch of road, or what to do if you find yourself spinning out of control.
That’s why Carzone (plug alert) has devised a winter driving guide full of tips, which we have amended slightly, to survive the snow, ice and rain. Of course the best way to survive would be to park up your car and take the bus, but where’s the fun in that?
Snow and ice
Pack a bag of supplies and leave it in your boot. That should include (deep breath) food, water, a set of warm clothing, a blanket, torch, first aid kit, fully charged phone (or one of those portable battery chargers), jump leads, a shovel, ice scraper, de-icing fluid and some sand or grit to give your tyres some traction if they get bogged down.
One great thing about driving a van or a bus is that the bonnet is usually either very slight, or completely non-existent, so if you manage to drive into a wall while parking or hit another car in traffic, there aren’t many people you can blame beyond yourself.
The problem usually becomes quite apparent in vehicles such as Land Rovers, which tend to have long snouts. And that’s where Land Rover’s brand-new Transparent Bonnet concept (not a thoroughly imaginative name, to be honest), comes into its own. Using technology to give drivers a better view of what they can’t see, the system will employ cameras in the vehicle’s grille to feed the driver a head-up display, creating what is effectively a see-through view of the ground beneath the bonnet, as well as the angle and the position of the front wheels. You might just be tempted to don a tight blue suit with a red cape and wear your underpants on the outside.
As 2013 winds down and 2014 is about to swing in, let’s stop for a minute, and think about all of the cool things previous generations were sure we would have by this time. Underground cities and flying cars sadly have not yet come to pass, while hoverboards remain just out of reach. (Damn Science, what the hell have you been doing? Get your act together.)
One thing which probably didn’t crop up in people’s imagination at the time is cars that can hear. No, that’s not the beginning of an undeniably frightening horror flick, but just another part of Google’s technological dreams, dreams which will be completely pointless if they aren’t aiming towards the construction of a death star of some description.
Anyway, apparently this is now a thing. Or, at least, it will be, and not that far away in time. The tech giant, which has already designed a working driverless car, with thousands of miles of testing under its belt, has also been developing the technology that would allow a vehicle to listen to its surroundings and take control if necessary. So, for example, if you’re flying towards a beeping pedestrian crossing, and you’re intent on going through, make sure you have your seatbelt on, because one way or another the car will stop, and you could find yourself sitting on the tarmac with bits of your windshield in your face.
The idea is to complement the cameras which sit on top of Google’s driverless cars – a camera is all well and good when it can see what’s coming, but on the off chance that right around the bend is a dingling railway crossing, and you’re too busy singing along to Miley Cyrus (it could happen), this mightn’t be the worst idea.
Hats off to Google, in any case. I, for one, look forward to Skynet’s inevitable takeover when it has been insulted by a frustrated driver for the last time.