An old debate

Ged reaches the age when it’s the small things that matter

GED BULMER

EVER noticed the size of Toyota switchgear?

Surely I’m not the only one to realise that Camry switches are apparently designed for the massive thumbs of Sissy Hankshaw, lead character in Tom Robbins’ novel Even Cowgirls Get the Blues.

But after years of deriding Toyota’s big, chunky buttons as being like the over-sized key-pad on a pensioner’s phone, it’s recently started to make sense to me.

You see, having stuttered past a milestone our test cricketers seem incapable of achieving – the half-century, not 16 – I’ve begun to notice the drop-off in my eyesight.

My distance vision is still terrific, but the close-range performance of my previously 20-20 peepers is undoubtedly on the wane.

It happens to the best of us. In fact, medical science has a name for this visual degeneration, presbyopia, which a learned website tells me is Greek for ‘old man eyes’.

Charming!

The talented Michael Stahl penned a wonderful column on this topic a few years ago, referencing the physiological drop-off in reaction time, vision and other skills that comes with ageing. At the time I felt for “poor old Stahly” – despite us being the same vintage – and assumed that his hard life versus my strict ‘the body is a temple’ (ahem!) approach must have been the difference. It wasn’t.

Joining the growing-long-arms department has led me to question the V60’s tiny switchgear. Seriously, you need to have the tactile skills of an eye surgeon to operate these things. Perhaps the Swedes are so genetically superior they don’t ‘do’ macular degeneration. After all, this is the blue-eyed, blonde-haired race that’s given us Anita Ekberg, Victoria Silvstedt and Agnetha from ABBA.

But I’m sorry Hjalmar, or Thorsten, or whatever the bloody interior designer’s name is, we middle-aged Aussies have fat little fingers and squinty-poor eyesight, so your close-clustered, near-invisible buttons do not please us.

I’ve at least worked out how to switch the handsome and (thankfully) highly visible LED dash between its different themed displays.

In fact, I’ve channelled my inner Sigmund Freud and started an experiment to see how the various colours affect mood, to kill time on my 45-minute commute.

The jury is still out on whether driving in ECO, with the dash glowing a gentle green, makes me any softer on the loud pedal, or if switching to Performance has me angrily flipping other drivers the bird and attracting speeding tickets.

But what I can say for certain is that, when running in vivid-red Performance mode, on a Monday morning, en route to work, I’m a right cranky old bastard.

VOLVO V60 D4 LUXURY

Date acquired: December 2014 Price as tested: $70,015 This month: 3183km @ 6.5L/100km Overall 7109km @ 7.2L/100km Da Pri Th Ov

Unlocking the mystery

THE little battery in the V60’s key fob must be on its last legs because it now only works when I’m standing right next to the car and pointing the key directly at the interior. Makes you realise what a convenient feature keyless central locking is… and to ponder why the V60, which is otherwise so well appointed, lacks this increasingly popular (and increasingly standard) feature.

LED dash display can be switched from bold red (Performance) to cool green (ECO) or Swiss neutral (Elegance)

MOOD MODIFIER