You’re not supposed to drive too fast when you test cars. I mean, the roads by my house are not exactly outfitted with guardrails, a race track shoulder, or someone holding a warning flag trying to tell you to slow down. And, honestly, I miss a rally held every spring in Wisconsin where you can drive cars at high speeds on an actual track.
That hasn’t stopped me from testing out a 2020 Mustang EcoBoost Coupe with a little more pep. I like to lean into turns a little. I’ll stomp on the gas when it’s perfectly safe and warranted, such as accelerating from a full stop up to normal highway speeds. And, I love driving on curvy roads to test the suspension…and the stomachs of passengers along for the ride. I always keep things pretty chill and calm, even with a vehicle that has a 310-horsepower engine.
That said, I’ve noticed lately that Apple CarPlay now works in almost every make and model, and I’m getting used to almost always being able to talk to Siri, play my podcasts, and ask for directions. When you are speed-shifting on a country road, it helps even more.
During my test, I experimented with almost every voice command I could think of using CarPlay. I asked about the upcoming election results while downshifting into a turn. I asked about the latest podcasts including one recent find called No Stupid Questions. It’s fun to focus 100% on driving, shifting, braking, and accelerating while you have full access to the bot.
I also found a few cool settings in the Mustang. There’s one for tracking your laps that would come in handy if I was actually on a track. I imagined being able to check weather conditions during a track day for later laps. The Mustang EcoBoost Coupe is designed for people who love to drive and it’s well-matched to the current age of voice control and easier infotainment control. As usual, I thought about ways this could improve any more.
In recent years, brands like BMW and Mercedes-Benz have shown how voice bots can tap into the automotive systems. In a Mercedes-Benz, for example, you can ask the car to adjust the climate control and even lock the doors. In the Mustang, I pictured a day when you can talk to a race track bot. You’d say something like: “Mustang, track my acceleration” and the car would automatically detect when you punch it and when you brake. The bot would know you are testing acceleration up to a certain speed based on the fact that you braked when you hit 60. With a lap timer, the bot might automatically record laps based on seeing you are on the same road over and over and even feed this data to the display without any prompting.
I’d like to talk to the Mustang in other ways. Someday, we’ll have full voice control over everything in the vehicle, from the locks and windows to the trunk. We’ll be able to ask about maintenance schedules and even find the closest dealer with a good deal on oil changes.
For now, what’s happening with Apple CarPlay (and Android Auto) is that it’s becoming standard equipment. This is a wonderful trend because it means consistency in all brands. We don’t have to wonder how things work, we can just jump in and drive. By connecting our phones to the car (either using a wired or wireless connection), we can expect the same basic features.
For me, it means more hands-free driving. I love punching it a little, finding the best roads, and seeing how the car can handle the same test road near my house. What will come next with robotic control and more voice commands on the track is even more exciting.