It's hard to imagine and comprehend how far the motorcar will go. From the birth of the original concept in the late 1800s, to today’s fire-breathing V12 monsters, the car has gone through evolution after evolution, and we’ve now managed to hit a peak were we are merely tweaking the perfected design. But one aspect where we can make large leaps in technological advancement is in the gadget side of the motorcar. It’s only now in the 21st century that we’ve been more accustomed to powerful electronics and technology within our cars, but what models have the most intelligent bits of kit on the planet? Which cars are paving the way for the future?

The 'Smartest' Cars On The Planet

The Manettino

To start, it'd be very difficult not to mention Ferrari. The Italian marque, famous for Formula One, incredible sports cars and biblical levels of passion, has always been at the forefront of automotive technology, as it has continually introduced F1-derived tech to its supercars. One of those gadgets is called the ‘Manettino’. This little switch on the side of the steering wheel is one of the most important aspects on any new Ferrari. It was first seen in the F430 and was marketed as being made with the help of 7-time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher. The tech is basically traction control, but on a whole new level of geek-based intelligence.

The Manettino effectively decides how the car drives; that’s how powerful it is. The driver can choose several options on the switch that amend the car’s characteristics; whether that be extra grip for when it’s icy, to less grip and more control for when you want to get sideways. It’s been praised left, right and centre by journalists for giving the driver the ability to still use traction control but in a way that doesn’t interfere with the actual driving. Leaving the switch in ‘Race’ mode gives you quite a bit of slip through the corners before it cuts in and saves your blushes by correcting your potentially fatal driving errors. There are a lot of big innovations on all modern Ferraris, but the Manettino is so clever it almost feels like the car’s brain and that it would be lost without it.

The In-Car Wi-Fi

From mechanical systems to electric systems, another intelligent piece of kit that we’re being to see on road cars is Wi-Fi hotspots. Top-of-the-range Audis and BMWs have just begun to roll out the systems that allow any passenger in the car to connect to an internet connection that is built into the car. That means the kids can play on for hours – leaving you to get on with the important task of driving.

It may not seem amazingly important, but the ability to connect to a broadband speed internet connection at 70mph will revolutionise how businesspeople do business, how families spend their time during a journey and how we buy things on the move. And there’s more good news, too! Ford has announced it is looking into the technology for its smaller hatchbacks like the Focus and Fiesta for future models. Fingers crossed, eh?

Radar-Guided Cruise Control

You can't have a smartest cars on the planet article without mentioning the daddy, the don, the big poppa – the Mercedes S-Class. This car effectively invented automotive innovations, and is famed for its ‘future-tech’ and massive amounts of kit. The S-Class was the first car to ever be fitted with anti-lock brakes, airbags and seatbelts, but now the latest model is boldly going where no car has been before.

The S-Class features something called 'radar-guided cruise control'. We're all accustomed to standard cruise control; a system that sticks to a set speed limit for motorway use. But this bit of tech is so clever; you start to wonder if you’re actually needed. What you do is set the S-Class to a speed and release your foot off the throttle – nothing too special there, right? But then comes the clever bit: the S-Class will then follow the car in front; if it slows down, you slow down, if it speeds up, you speed up. The adaptive system is so intelligent that it can slow down to a standstill if you approach a roundabout. It takes some bravery to initially understand how it all works, but when you do, you’ll be enjoying trip after trip of almost blissful driving.

What's Next

What's next for intelligence in cars? Well it's hard to say, but don't be surprised if the most amazing technology we see in our homes and everyday lives one day enters your car. The intelligent people with PhDs will already be plotting the next big thing;

This is a guest post was written on behalf of - car finance consultants based in the UK.