Automatic Climate Control: Do You Really Need It?
Published On Sep 13, 2020 11:59 AM By Dhruv.A
This seemingly simple add-on has made our car’s cabin a much cosier place, but can it pose problems as well?
An automatic climate control system is becoming standard fitment in cars but not a lot of people know about their functioning. Yes, they have made our lives easier, added comfort, and enabled a host of feel-good features too. But if you aren’t careful and take them for granted, things can easily go awry. We dwell upon the pros and cons of automatic climate control in this new segment: do you need one?
A car with a manual air conditioning system requires you to manually toggle the AC, control the blower speed and temperature settings. But when you affix the word automatic, things become a lot more comfortable. Irrespective of the temperature outside, the cabin temperature will constantly remain at the level you’ve set. The onboard sensors regulate the hot and cool cabin air according to the ambient temperature and humidity outside to match the levels you’ve set inside.
In fact, some premium cars balance the temperature based on sunray positioning and sunlight intensity. It rids you of fiddling with the AC knobs if the conditions are changing continuously. While the basic workings remain the same, some manufacturers give it a name of their own. For instance, Mercedes-Benz calls it Thermotronics while Volkswagen has christened it Climatronic.
Enables Connected Technology
The automatic AC units aren’t just useful as a standalone feature but enable some more conveniences. For example, connected cars like Hyundai Venue and Kia Seltos allow you to remotely toggle not just the engine but also your air conditioning system. If your car has turned into a furnace while parked under the sun, it can be easily cooled from afar and that’s possible only because of an automatic climate control system.
Air Purifiers and Perfumes
Until a few years ago, air conditioning systems with built-in perfume diffusers were the play of super-expensive cars like the BMW 7 Series or Mercedes-Benz S-Class. But Kia made it accessible by introducing this feature with its cash cow, the Seltos, last year.
The fragrant air might come across as a novelty since the basic air quality has deteriorated rapidly across the nation. That has rendered use of air purifiers important not just in homes but also inside our cars. Thankfully, cars like the MG ZS EV, Hyundai Venue and Creta along with, Kia Seltos and the Sonet get it fitted from the factory itself. It goes without saying that you have to change/clean the air filter time-to-time.
Yes, you can get an aftermarket air purifier or perfume diffuser but they won’t be as seamless as the ones from the factory.
Multi-zone Climate Control
Most cars these days feature a single-zone climate control system which keeps the same temperature inside the entire cabin. But as the car’s prices soar, you can get two, three or even four-zone units as well. Big, luxurious SUVs like the BMW X7 and the Mercedes-Benz GLS are equipped with a five-zone climate control unit. It allows occupants of the same car to experience the weather of Kullu or Kerala as per their convenience. The Mahindra XUV300 is the most affordable car in India with twin-zone climate control.
But is it a faultless technology? Nope. Let’s look at some of its drawbacks.
Complicated to Use
Climate control systems are usually simple to operate but a buffet of buttons and dials can befuddle some users. Yes, you can get used to them but it might take some time for them to become muscle memory which is important while adjusting them while driving.
Even the multi-zone climate control systems with their additional bits and buttons can take some time to grasp. And since this is air that we are talking about, it’s quite possible that it gets mixed inside the cabin.
Expensive to Fix
If something inside a manual AC goes wrong, the most you’ll have to fix is a compressor or condenser. If the automatic climate control’s sensors and electronics go awry, be ready for hefty charges.
Takeaway: Not Really A Deal Maker
It’s not a must-have feature. We wouldn’t recommend stretching your budget to a variant whose most meaningful feature is climate control. If it comes bundled with some more utilitarian features then well and good.
We’ll be bringing more such stories on lesser noticed features that are becoming a part of your automotive life. If you have some topics of your own, let us know in the comments.