Lexus was one of the first car brands to use self-healing paint. Picture SUPPLIED
Lexus was one of the first car brands to use self-healing paint. Picture SUPPLIED

Self-healing paint

Self-healing paint is a special type of paint that can repair itself from light scratches. It uses a softer and more elastic clear coat that isn’t completely dry.

When heat from warm water or sunlight is applied onto the surface, molecules re-arrange themselves to their original scratch-free state. Lexus and Nissan were the early adopters of the technology.

Voice recorder

Discovered purely by surprise inside a previous-generation BMW 330d, the voice recorder is as simple as it sounds but the uses are crucial. Unlike voice control which is now de rigueur even in budget cars, and where you click a button and speak your commands into the car, the little-known voice recorder feature allows drivers to record conversations in small bytes.

You can then play it back at a convenient time. Imagine the convenience of recording a cellphone number, an address or even a person’s name while driving instead of the unsafe option to type into your mobile device.

Bouncing suspension

In its new GLS large SUV, Mercedes-Benz has used Californian car culture of "lowriders" fitted with hydraulics that can bounce a car clear off the ground. Rather than for show, it helps the GLS to extricate itself if it should get stuck in the sand when off-roading.

Instead of having to call the rescue squad, the vehicle uses the air suspension to bounce itself out of trouble.   

The new Mercedes-Benz GLS (2019) on a test drive in the desert.

Remote-controlled parking

Reversing a car remains one of the skills that defeat many a licenced driver. To assist in this nerve-wracking action BMW has introduced a number of reversing assistance features, such as remote-control parking in the 7 series. It means the driver can stand outside the car and, by pressing the key fob, allow the car to steer itself in and out of tight parking bays.

Newer BMWs, like the X7, can now automatically steer out of bays using the exact path the car travelled when parking in. A driver needs only to moderate the throttle and the car does the steering all on its own.  

Learn in this video how to use the BMW reversing assistant. The reversing assistant supports the driver when reversing, for example when reversing in a narrow or dead end road.

Safe Exit Assist

The Safe Exit Assist system from Kia and Hyundai monitors the vehicle’s surroundings when it is stopped, and will prevent a rear door from opening if a car or other hazard is approaching.

This is a critical feature for people with children who are always ready to jump out without a care in the world.