This year’s Gadget Show Live features more motoring than ever before. O2 Guru TV presenter David McClelland looks under the hood at some of the latest car technology.
Peugeot claims to be about ‘Driving sensations’ at its Gadget Show Live stand. While visitors can sit in the driving seat of the Car of the Year 2014 – the new Peugeot 308 – they can’t actually take it for a spin. That is where the sense-defying Oculus Rift comes in.
Dotted all around the Peugeot booth the Oculus Rift head mounted displays give wearers a chance to experience a virtual reality spin around a real rally stage as if sat inside a 308. Although you might not be thrown around the cockpit as you take perilous corners at full pelt, experiencing the drive through the immersive Oculus Rift is as close as it comes to the real thing.
Getting back to the real car, Peugeot’s new midrange motor is friendlier on your fuel-tank and on the environment than ever before, with the 1.6 BlueHDi diesel engine option delivering 120 bhp along with an very healthy 91.1 miles per gallon.
Inside the 308 the infotainment tech is contained in what Peugeot calls the ‘i-Cockpit’, an app-enabled 9.7-inch touch screen tablet-esque display. Smartphone connectivity is achieved via Bluetooth for calls and USB for music and photos, but an optional USB dongle can hook the car up to the internet, giving access to Peugeot’s connected apps available through a dedicated app Store.
Other motoring stands at the show take a different route to give visitors super-sized driving experiences.
The McLaren F1 team gives you an opportunity to join Jensen Button for a flying lap as part of a ‘5D Experience’ in its McLaren Mobile Motion Theatre. In case you’re wondering, alongside 3D visuals, the 4D refers to physical seat movement as Jensen hurtles you round the track, and the 5th dimension is the various other effects which — spoiler alert — may involve some very large fans.
Volkswagen is one motoring brand at the show that genuinely lets visitors put its vehicles through their paces. Of course, taking a fumey internal combustion engine car for a spin in a confined space is unwise, even when that space happens to be as huge as an NEC exhibition hall.
The Volkswagen Driving Experience gets around this by letting visitors loose in one of its new all-electric e-Up! range.
VW’s zero-emission motor has a top speed of 80 mph and hits 0-60 in around 12 seconds, although acceleration at the lower end is far more impressive meaning it’ll be a nippy performer about town.
Critical for an electric-only vehicle is its range, and the e-Up! promises between 70 and 90 miles between charges depending on your driving style. Three regenerative charging modes can even help to charge the battery while driving and extend the range further, with over 100 miles between charges possible.
The VW rep we drove with quoted research claiming the average daily commute is as little as eight miles per day. While this might seem a bit optimistic, it’s feasible the e-Up! could easily last a few days between charges, putting some fears of ‘range anxiety’ to rest.
A full battery charge might cost in the region of £3.60 from a standard mains AC plug at your home, meaning an economic 4p per mile should be possible. However, visit one of an increasing number of supporting petrol stations or charging points in UK cities and you can fill your tank for free from a DC charger, with an 80% fill from flat in only 30 minutes.
Finally from Volkswagen comes a car of the future, built today. It’s a tall claim, given that the VW XL1 looks to all intents and purposes like one of the futuristic gull-winged concept cars that feature at car shows but never make it onto the road. Surprisingly though, this is a genuine road-worthy vehicle currently in production.
It’s not just the aesthetics that surprise. The plug-in electric/diesel hybrid XL1 is derived from the ‘1-Litre Car’, a project to design a vehicle that can travel 100 km on just 1 litre of fuel while remaining practical and roadworthy.
As a result, the XL1 claims a jaw-dropping 313 miles per gallon, making it the world’s most fuel-efficient production car. Under the bonnet a 48 PS two-cylinder 800 cc TDI diesel engine links to a 27 PS electric motor resulting in an output of around 75 BHP, which is better than it sounds when you consider the extremely low kerb weight thanks to the carbon fibre body.
This silver slither of the future will cost in the region of £100,000 when the first 200 become available later this year.
The Gadget Show Live has shown us how cars are getting smarter and more environmentally friendly. But what exites you most about the future of motoring? Let us know via our Twitter @O2.