Secret car features you never knew existed

Fuel gauge arrow

OK, cards on the table, that’s a very ‘clickbait’ headline. Apologies in advance, especially if you’re completely aware of the ‘secret’ car features we’re about to reveal. The thing is, ‘Some clever and quite interesting car features your friends might not know about’ was a headline my editor refused to entertain.

If nothing else, you can use a couple of these to ‘wow’ your colleagues at the water cooler.

The little arrow on the fuel gauge

Fuel gauge arrow and light

We’ve all been there: arriving at a petrol pump in a moment of mild panic when you forget what side the fuel filler is on FOR THE UMPTEENTH TIME.

Help is at hand thanks to that little arrow that tells you precisely where to find the filler cap. Proof that even in this age of adaptive cruise control, autonomous braking and driverless cars, a humble arrow can make all the difference.

Jim Moylan is credited for inventing the little arrow, although the Mercedes-Benz W123 featured something very similar.

Curry hook

Nissan Almera curry hook

Nissan claims to have invented the in-car ‘curry hook’ when it debuted on the Almera in 1996. It was designed for carrying handbags or shopping bags, but it soon became a must-have accessory for takeaway lovers.

Today, you’ll find a ‘curry hook’ in the Qashqai and X-Trail, but look out for similar hooks in other vehicles. More often than not, you’ll find at least one pop-out hook in the boot.

Dipping rear-view mirror

Dipping rear-view mirror

We thought this one was obvious, but we know of at least one person who was unaware that it’s possible to tilt the rear-view mirror to reduce headlight glare. Simply use the tab below the mirror to switch between ‘day’ and ‘night’ settings.

Automatic dimming rear-view mirrors are becoming commonplace, while rear-view mirrors of the future are likely to use cameras.

Parking ticket holder

Skoda parking ticket holder

If you enjoy the feeling of euphoria if you manage to place a car park ticket on the dashboard and then close the door without it blowing away, the humble plastic holder might not be for you.

The parking ticket holder has been sitting on the inside of Skoda windscreens for years. More useful than an electrically-operated driver’s seat, we reckon.

Colour-coding under the bonnet

Yellow colour-coding under bonnet

Too many motorists are blissfully unaware of what lies below the bonnet, only venturing beneath the ‘hood’ to fill the washer fluid bottle.

Helpfully, many modern engine bays feature colour-coded guides to highlight the fluids and levels that could and should be checked between services. They tend to be yellow or blue, and they make it easier to locate the engine dipstick, oil cap, coolant, brake fluid and washer fluid.

Ice scraper

Skoda ice scraper

Open the fuel filler cap on a modern Skoda and you’ll find an ice scraper that doubles up as a tyre tread-depth gauge.

On the new Scala, you’ll even find that the cap for the washer fluid folds out to become a funnel.

Umbrella

Skoda umbrella

Speaking of the new Scala, it also gets a compartment in the driver’s door complete with a free umbrella. Proof that you don’t need a Rolls-Royce to live the rain-dodging dream.

Alternatively, you could opt for a Japanenese-spec Nissan N13/N14 Pulsar to get an aptly-named ‘Umbrella Pocket’.

Spiders and sharks

Vauxhall Crossland X shark

Not all ‘hidden’ features are useful. Some manufacturers like to add so-called ‘Easter eggs’ to their cars – little treats that are akin to wearing brightly-coloured socks with an otherwise sombre suit.

Since 2004, Vauxhall and Opel have been adding small sharks to their interiors, and today they can be found in the likes of the Adam, Corsa, Astra, Insignia, Crossland X and Grandland X.

It all started when Opel designer Dietmar Finger was working on a sketch for the outer panel of the glovebox. It requires ‘ribs’ to maintain stability when the glovebox is opened, so Dietmar’s son suggested drawing a shark. Amazingly, the shark made into series production.

Other examples include a spider’s web on the inside of a storage lid in the Volvo XC90 and countless ‘Easter eggs’ in the Jeep Renegade.

Fancy puddle lights

Seat Tarraco puddle light

How long before the fancy puddle light becomes as naff as a pair of Lexus-style rear lamps? We give it a few weeks.

In the meantime, they remain kind of cool and guaranteed to impress your mates. Probably.

Hidden storage

Seat Alhambra hidden storage

One of the joys of owning an MPV is discovering the seemingly endless array of hidden storage compartments and pockets. In the Seat Alhambra, you’ll find a pair of covered storage compartments in the second-row floor.

In other cars, you find might storage boxes under the front seats, on the top of the dashboard, in the roof and inside the boot. In fact, the one advantage of the absence of a spare wheel is the additional underfloor storage space.

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