We don’t change cars all that often and, when we do, there’s a ton of choice. Making a car stand out is tough, and sometimes big brands add unconventional features to give their models the edge.
Unconventional they may be, but one or two of the features we’ve found could actually be considered useful, while a few are outright bizarre.
From controlling your car with its keyfob, to activating the ‘Gentleman function’ or taking advantage of a built-in air freshener – would any of these options tempt you to buy the car?
Read on to find out more and to watch our BMW 5 series video – where we control the car from its keyfob.
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Remote control your BMW 5 Series: video
We were so amazed by the 5 Series and its remote control keyfob that we did a video showing it off.
The ‘Display Key’, as BMW calls it, can be used to control your 5 Series when you’re out of the car. It looks like something we should be running through our smartphones test and it controls many of the car’s features.
You can lock the car, open the boot, activate a panic alarm, and it tells you important information, such as how many miles are left in the tank and whether you left the lights on.
The range is around 300 yards. So if your car is sat in the garage and you can’t remember whether you switched off the lights, you don’t even need to get off the sofa to check.
Plus, the 5 Series keyfob has another neat trick – you can use it to drive your car. Holding a button on the side of the key starts the engine, and you can press the touchscreen to move the car backwards and forwards. There’s no way to turn, but it can help you back out of a tight space or freak out pedestrians.
Fancy keyfob aside, you can read our thoughts of the car and how it is to drive in our BMW 5 Series first drive review.
The ‘Gentleman function’ in the BMW 7 Series
Nestled on the 7 Series’s heads-up display between ‘Shoulder support’ and ‘Seat heating’ is the mysterious ‘Gentleman function’. Does a bowler hat pop out of the headrest? Do ejector seats remove anyone who isn’t landed gentry?
Not quite. It just lets you adjust the front passenger seat from the driver’s door.
Sexist naming aside, is the feature actually useful? Yes, it’s over-the-top, like most of the features here. But if you need to adjust the seat to make it easier for someone to get in, you don’t need to reach over and fumble under the seat for the right levers, possibly spilling your cup of earl grey all over your pinstripe suit in the process.
The Gentleman function didn’t factor in the 7 Series’ final score, but comfort, efficiency, reliability and the driving experience did. Read our BMW 7 Series review to see if it’s a Which? Best Buy luxury car.
A little magic from the Mercedes-Benz S-Class
‘Magic Body Control’ that is. The S-Class can’t inhabit your body and control your movements, although there’s probably a team at Tesla working on something similar. Magic Body Control refers to the car’s chassis, rather than the driver’s, and it’s designed to give you the smoothest ride possible.
It uses sensors and a camera behind the windscreen to detect upcoming lumps and bumps in the road. It then adjusts the suspension, so you don’t get a sore bum from driving down a road that hasn’t seen a fresh lick of tarmac since the 80’s.
Is the Mercedes-Benz S-Class the height of luxury, or does the gentlemanly 7 Series pip it to the post? Find out it in our Mercedes-Benz S-Class review.
The sweet smell of a Fiat 500
It’s a sad day when that new car smell goes away. Sure, you could hang a tree-shaped air freshener from your rear-view mirror, or you could buy a Fiat 500 with a perfume dispenser. It slots snugly into the 500’s cup holder and sprays three fragrances: citrus, fresh air and essence of night.
It’s expensive, as air fresheners go – it costs around £60 plus £10 for perfume refills. But you’ll be glad of it the next time you drive past a farm and the only odour is whatever Fiat thinks the night smells like.
The retro look of the Fiat 500 is adorable, but is this cute car good to drive? Read our Fiat 500 review for the full verdict.
Top-down timer in the Mini Convertible
Have you ever been driving your convertible with the wind rushing through your hair and thought – how long have I had the top down for? Probably never, so why Mini thought it would fit its convertible with an ‘Openometer’ is almost as mysterious as its decision to call it an Openometer.
The dial sits near the speedometer and it tells you how long you’ve been driving with the top down, so you can tell anyone who cares. That’ll be no one, then.
Head to our Mini Convertible review to see whether the tiny soft top is worth the steep asking price.
Get the lighting right on your Ford Mustang
Sometimes you’re sat in your car and you just want a change. The Ford Mustang gives you some extra customisation in the form of ambient light options.
There are plenty of different colours, and you can set your own brightness. If you’re not happy with the preset colours, you can also create up to three of your own.
Once you’ve chosen your colour, it will illuminate the dashboard menus and dials, as well as any lights in the foot wells, cup holders and door handles.
Sadly, there’s no way of getting the Mustang to cycle through the colours to create an in-car disco.
Read our final verdict of the quintessential American muscle car in our Ford Mustang review.