November 1, 2002
12:47 PM   Subscribe

To lessen the clutter on their dashboard, a German auto manufacturer has put in a data screen and command input device that allows the driver to control 700 different aspects of their driving experience (including Navigation, Communication, Car Data, and Settings). More interestingly, there's an undocumented feature in the high-tech control system -- Press the right buttons in the right order and the car will launch you from a stop after revving the engine to 5,000 rpm... at least it will if you're in Europe, where performing the trick more than 15 times voids the car's warranty. Cars sold here in the US will only rev to 1,500 rpm. Supposedly, this is the first example of an Automotive Easter Egg.
posted by crunchland (17 comments total)
My first (new) vehicle was a 1991 Ford F150 with the premium sound system. There were buttons for 6 preset stations. Since this is essentially a digital interface you'd expect nice powers of 2. 2, 4, 8, 16... and 6 just isn't a power of 2. Well, the engineers designed the interface such that by pressing a combination of 2 buttons you could access the two otherwise unused presets.

This is the first automotive easter egg that I know of, but I'm sure somebody will be able to come up with an earlier one.
posted by substrate at 12:53 PM on November 1, 2002

On my 1992 Mazda 323, if I hit the AC button, hit the left turn signal and turn on the rear defroster the same time, my car violently revs up to 350 RPM and takes off in reverse. (The horn blares the whole time making it even more comical!)
posted by mildred-pitt at 1:12 PM on November 1, 2002

Slashdot just beat this topic to death.
posted by jedrek at 1:20 PM on November 1, 2002

As I was preparing to take a 1985 Mazda RX-7 from a decidedly pro-American collision shop ("I don't like these forn cars. Everything's so small."), I noticed that turning the radio on caused the A/C fan to run. The speed seemed to be roughly linked to the volume.

Mazdas seem to be full of easter eggs. :)
posted by Vetinari at 1:21 PM on November 1, 2002

I think it's rather amusing that this "high-performance" car manufacturer will void the warranty on you if you actually push the car just a little.

No thanks. I would rather get one without this "feature" and rev/drop the clutch the regular way. At least I won't loose the warranty.

posted by Witold at 1:22 PM on November 1, 2002

"Violently revs up to 350 rpm & takes off in reverse!" Muahahahaha! More like revs down from idle speed and rolls to a stop. Maybe....
posted by Pressed Rat at 1:22 PM on November 1, 2002

To me, this system is simultaneously sexy and terrifying. The popular science writer doesn't seem particularly impressed with the system's usability. And the quote about including 8 menus as opposed to the 7 in fighter jets because the manufacturer thinks its customers are more intelligent than fighter pilots is very worrisome.

jedrek: So?
posted by gsteff at 1:26 PM on November 1, 2002

"Slashdot just beat this topic to death."

Only if "just" means over a month ago.
posted by smackfu at 1:31 PM on November 1, 2002

Speaking of Mazdas - I owned (secondhand) one of the first RX-7s imported into the US. Apparently they were still in the process of the right-hand-drive to left-hand-drive conversion at the plant, as the left stalk controlled the wipers and the right stalk controlled the lights. Plus the hood release was on the passenger side. Of course, this was the only Mazda I've owned, so maybe they were just all screwy.

Great car though, and illustrative of one of my pet peeves of automotive "progress": the curse of automation. My car had a sunroof that was pretty much the entire roof, nearly a targa-top. Or course, to remove it you needed to undo a bolt and two clips, hop out of the car, lift the roof off, put it in the back, and clip in a little wind-guard. God forbid anything in this day and age not work with the single push of a button, so we get these envelope-sized slits masquerading as sunroofs, as it needs to retract into or over the roof. Bah. Of course, it also had a manual choke, for which I'll not wax nostalgic...
posted by jalexei at 2:03 PM on November 1, 2002

Well, if by "undocumented" you mean "documented" As the feature mentioned right there in the manual.

ALSO the car with the one-knob interface is not the same one as the super-rever thing. And you access it using the shifter stick.
posted by delmoi at 2:10 PM on November 1, 2002

Yes, but does it speak in the soothing voice of William Daniels?

My car's rear wiper only works when I push down on the automatic door locks. Go figure.
posted by gottabefunky at 2:14 PM on November 1, 2002

iDrive is completely seperate from the power-launch feature on the SMG. As has been mentioned, it is fully documented, so it is not an easter egg. Even if it were, it wouldn't be the first, as amply pointed out in this thread and the Slashdolt thread mentioned above.

And, the better version can be obtained on American cars buy having your ECU reprogrammed.

(and, before anyone gets started, this isn't a feature you can "accidentally" trigger. You have to turn off launch control, put the tranny in neutral, floor the accelerator, and hold the stick in upshift position. you don't do this unless you plan on going fast)
posted by jammer at 2:58 PM on November 1, 2002

As pointed out, these are two separate systems in two separate cars. SMGII is a computer controlled manual tranny (the car does the clutch work), where as iDrive is BMW's new interface for controlling the various aspects of the car (HVAC/Nav/Stereo/etc.).

Regarding the warranty issue on the SMGII system (since this topic was beaten to death months before slashdot got its teeth into it, on the various BMW lists): its unconfirmed. No one believes that BMW would void your warranty solely based on the computer showing this particular fault. BMW has not said they would. On the other hand, what you are doing to the car is completely abusive, and you shouldn't expect *any* company to honor a warranty on equipment you've knowingly abused.
posted by stigg at 3:12 PM on November 1, 2002

I started up my 1986 Volkswagen Golf today, and the horn blared immediately, for about 10 seconds. I didn't stop laughing all the way to work :)

My parents' old econoline van used to honk randomly like that while coming out of left-hand turns. One time it did it while my sister was in the process of taking out a line of barricades (she was learning how to drive). That was a hoot!
posted by schlaager at 4:07 PM on November 1, 2002

Reduce the clutter, sure...but at the same time, the iDrive, at least from the reviews I've read, is just about impossible to use. And if you're going to use it, you better be either parked, or have a passenger along with you to play around with it.

Maybe another example of too much technology just not being a good thing...
posted by PeteyStock at 8:36 PM on November 1, 2002

I think a HUD (head-up display) like that used in aircraft cockpits would've been a much smarter alternative to a screen embedded in the center dashboard panel. I'd rather keep my eyes toward what's in front of me, even if I'm changing focus temporarily.
posted by alumshubby at 6:31 AM on November 2, 2002

Message to auto makers....will someone PLEASE build an IR port so I can sync my Palm device to it? It makes reading milage that much easier. since I work out of my car now.
posted by CrazyJub at 10:40 AM on November 2, 2002

« Older The Political Oddsmaker   |   This CNN article Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments