Deciphering the safety acronyms by driving on snow
STEP into a car dealership these days and you'll be bombarded with acronyms, among them ESC, LDW, AEB, ACC and RCTA.
It would be easy to dismiss them as marketing jargon but they could save your life. Or a loved one's.
Most people will never experience how these invisible safety nets work - and when they have come into play, some won't even realise it.
So the invitation to see and feel this cutting edge technology in action was too good to refuse.
At the Southern Hemisphere Proving Grounds in Queenstown, New Zealand, Mazda demonstrated the full suite of driver assistance tech in its new all-wheel drive CX-8.
It's all about putting the driver at ease - and the result is a much more enjoyable experience, although some of that stemmed from being in the snow-capped valleys of the picturesque South Island.
Normally fresh snow and ice strike fear into the heart of an inexperienced driver. The Mazda tech inspires confidence instead.
As we put the seven-seater through its paces, the narrow cabin and sharp reflexes combine to trick you into thinking you're handling a smaller car, though there is no compromising on comfort.
The CX-8 shares its wheelbase with the CX-9 but is the same width as the CX-5, making it ideal for growing families without feeling overly large on the road.
It's sleek and stylish but the looks aren't the biggest attraction.
When you spend more time vacuuming sultanas out of the back of the car than you do on highways or dirt roads, safety is something you want to take for granted.
The Mazda's blind spot monitoring flashes a light in your side mirror if you're drifting into a lane that's already occupied. Lane-keep assist will steer you back into your lane if you wander and intelligent speed assistance reads road signs and adjusts your speed to the prevailing limit.
All are major drawcards for parents, or soon-to-be parents shopping for a family car.
On the icy surfaces at Queenstown, the hidden technology is most impressive.
Mazda says its all-wheel drive is predictive, meaning it can act quickly and catch the car if it senses something's not right. Its 27 sensors monitor conditions and driver inputs 200 times a second - whether you're driving at night, through wind, rain or snow, the AWD has got your back.
The brand's G-Vectoring Control (GVC) is likewise hard to discern from the driver's seat but it keeps the CX-8 stable and responsive on slippery corners.
The technology adjusts power output when entering a corner to shift the car's weight to the front wheels and provide more grip when turning in. The same tech shifts the load to the rear wheels for better drive out of corners.
The car feels stable and you experience less sideways movement when coming into or driving out of a corner.
All this technology gives you peace of mind when you're strapping your newborn into the car seat for the first time. It also gives you the confidence to say yes to that snow trip or camping in the rain.