This past weekend saw the 100th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, where driver Randy Pobst and his heavily-modified Model S Plaid were set to run a blistering time up the mountain. Through the first section, Pobst and Plaid did exactly that, but the two got slower and slower as the race wore on. But what hampered the time of the thousand-horsepower EV? Its climate controls.
See, Pikes Peak was cold last weekend, and the Tesla’s windshield started to fog up. Pobst, in the midst of a race, couldn’t figure out how to turn on the car’s front defroster through its center touchscreen. A feature, entirely normal in cars for decades, had been made frustrating by its implementation in the Model S. What feature has the same effect in your car?
I can name one that’s shared across multiple vehicles I’ve owned: A boxer engine. Between my 2014 FR-S and 2005 Legacy GT wagon, I learned the strengths and weaknesses of those flat-fours well. While they may be a stand-out feature to some, with their dual overhead cam design and low center of gravity, they carry more than their fair share of frustrations.
Boxers weigh more than an equivalent inline-four, since they need two separate cylinder heads with all the associated cams, gears, and castings. They aren’t particularly easy to work on, as shoving the heads into the front fender liners doesn’t make for great spark plug access. Worst of all, outside of the classic unequal-length-header STi burble (which comes with its own reliability faults), they don’t even sound particularly good. Boxer engines may be a stand-out feature, but they’re a deeply frustrating one.
But what feature is frustrating in your car? Do you have a dial shifter that you can never seem to get right, or a valved exhaust that never failed to wake the neighbors when you’re just trying to go to work? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll collect our favorite frustrating features for the future (tomorrow).