|My Mazdaspeed 3|
This is a picture of the three most important hand controls in a car. The steering wheel...er... steers. The shifter transmits power from the motor to the wheels. For normal people, the e-brake prevents the car from aimlessly wandering into some negative circumstance. However, the e-brake is an enthusiast's Leatherman multi-tool.
Now, I don't condone anything that I'm about to tell you. I'm just saying that certain people do, in fact, use the e-brake for these reasons. These might include e-brake drifts, j-turns, and front-wheel drive burnouts.
As enthusiasts, we are proud that we can make a car dance around corners and control its every movement. The e-brake simply aids in the festivities. Soon, these stop sticks will be replaced by something like this:
|Audi parking brake|
This parking brake is from an Audi A6, I believe (correct me if it's an A8). Notice the "P" does not denote e-brake. This is a parking brake. This was not made for hoonage or rally techniques, contrary to Audi heritage.
As I stated in part 1, the art of driving is becoming less and less intimate. Knowing the proper clutch and shift action for a car no longer matters. Shifting is becoming automated with dual clutch, flappy paddle tomfoolery. Add in the new EPA CAFE standards for increased fuel mileage and we have a perfect storm situation that can wash away all traces of analog car controls.
I know it's like beating a dead horse in this column but bear with me on transmissions for a bit.
Automated manual transmissions use clutches instead of torque converters like in a normal automatic transmission. Lexus and Mercedes use wet clutches in their automatics but that's a story for another time. These automated manuals are getting to be more efficient than automatics because those liquid filled torque converters sap a lot of power just to get moving. These transmissions can be moved around a lot more than a manual transmission due to solenoids controlling the driver/transmission interface instead of a mechanical linkage. This means that the center console can be made smaller which in the case of the McLaren MP4-12C narrows the car to decrease weight and increase fuel efficiency.
Where does this leave the e-brake? We might as well call it Bon Jovi 'cause it's living on a prayer now. Cable linkages are becoming good buddies with the Dodo bird and e-brakes are turning into p-brakes, which sounds more like a panic stop during a road trip. In which case, I don't want to be using that on a daily basis.