Our Vauxhall Astra is packed with an impressive amount of technology; but does it work?
Recently I dictated a text message to my wife while driving at 70mph (and not one mile per hour more) on the M6. And do you know what? The words that came out of my mouth went into my phone and emerged on the other side of the satellite just as I’d said them.
This remarkable occurrence didn’t get me out of the doghouse for being three hours late home from work, but it did mean that I arrived to my gently smouldering dinner with a twinkle of excitement in my eye.
Maybe it’s my age showing, but I’m used to voice recognition systems being utterly hopeless — so much so that I can’t remember the last time I actually used one for any purpose other than to reassure my prejudices.
I only tried it on the Astra out of desperation, in the realisation that I couldn’t possibly stop and send a message without making me even later.
A significant part of me was working on the premise that sending any kind of signal home would be better than sending none, if only so I could show willing while blaming the car for the gobbledygook that followed.
But it didn’t happen like that, and repeated use of the system has proved that it works no matter how much cabin noise there is.
And the biggest shock of it all — one of which I need to keep reminding myself — is that this is a lesson in technology being delivered by the once-humble Vauxhall Astra, not some premium-priced executive car.
Okay, this is Apple CarPlay at work rather than a Vauxhall-developed system, but it’s a great demonstration of how technology has been democratised and integrated into cars of all kinds.
My success has prompted me to investigate Vauxhall’s unique Onstar system, which offers wi-fi, a concierge service and a system that contacts the emergency services automatically if you have an accident.
Turns out dictating text messages is just the start of what the endlessly remarkable Astra can do — but more on that next time.
Astra on Safari
What do you learn about your car at Longleat?
That there’s just enough room for an adult in the back if your six-year-old freaks out and relocates to the front passenger seat when a camel uses your door mirror as a scratching post.
The panic attack ruined any chance of a close-up photo of said camel but proved the versatility of the Astra’s seats.
Vauxhall Astra 1.6 CDTi SRi Nav