How the car industry dilutes the Easter egg concept

Easter Eggs automotive

Nerds around the world, unite!

By definition, an Easter egg is an “unexpected or undocumented feature in a piece of computer software or on a DVD, included as a joke or a bonus.” An Easter egg is also a hard-boiled decorated egg you eat on Easter. Naturally, we’re talking about the former.

The Easter egg’s genesis can be traced all the way back to 1976. In the Colossal Cave Adventure text game, if you typed “xyzzy” you could teleport between two points in the game world. Things have got more and more elaborate with time and spread out of the gaming world universe into whatever industry uses programming — which is almost any industry nowadays.

Although we like this idea being adopted by the car world, the nerds in us are constantly raging about these not being true Easter eggs. We’ve split the usage of this concept into two different parts: the ones we like seeing more often, and the ones we hope are going to be renamed differently at least.

The ones PR people are calling Easter eggs, and are not

Jeep’s smallest SUV, the Renegade — you can read our review here — tries so hard to be cool(er than it already is) that it’s full of so-called Easter eggs.

easter egg jeep renegade fuel cap

There’s an Italian-speaking spider greeting you whenever you refill. The windshield shows a Willys silhouette on the lower passenger side, while the rear window features a small Sasquatch. The center console’s cubby space has Moab’s topographical map — United States’ most popular location among off-road lovers. Furthermore, the Jeep seven-slot grille and the military-inspired “X” motif are everywhere throughout the car’s cabin and on its body.

All these contribute to the Renegade’s joyful character, and we love them but it’d be great if everyone would stop calling them Easter eggs. Having eyes is enough of a condition to discover them. And Jeep is one eloquent example but not the only one.


In the Chrysler 200, for example, the center console’s cubby space has Detroit’s skyline imprinted on it (the car has nothing to do with Detroit, by the way). Even the Viper played this game, the 2010 ACR showing the outline of Laguna Seca in the same place as the Chrysler 200. Plus, the Nürburgring’s outline could be found on the door pull. (related: this video will make you a Dodge Viper expert in only 10 minutes).

Opel/Vauxhall Corsa has a shark, for whatever reason; the aquarium theme is carried over to too-small-for-America Adam, which has not one but four fish. Again, we have no idea why.


The ones that are proper secrets, and we love discovering

The modern car's wunderkind, Tesla is not only full electric and stupidly quick but also smart. It's less of a car and more like a computer on wheels. Which means its infotainment system is one of its perks — hence the full-size TV placed vertically in the car.

Tesla knows how to play this game better than anyone so far, having placed enough Easter eggs to keep you entertained in the car while not-necessarily driving.

Type “007” in the technician-login screen (you get there by holding the “T” symbol at the top of the infotainment screen) and then go to the Suspension tab in the Controls menu. Your Model S is replaced by the Wet Nellie — the Lotus Esprit submarine featured in The Spy Who Loved Me. Now your suspension will range from 0 to 20,000 leagues.

Pop culture references are also hidden in the Rainbow Road mode — which you find by rapidly pressing the Autopilot button four times in a row. While the standard, tarmac-imitating lane transforms into a psychedelic highway, SNL’s Don’t Fear the Reaper can be heard in the background.

The rainbow theme can also be seen in Tesla’s charging port: press the charger ten times in a row and the port’s lighting will go all crazy. Then there’s the Mars hint; enter “Mars” as the access code on the technician-login screen and your GPS map will show the mysterious’ planet surface while your Tesla turns into a rover.

However, the most imposing showoff move is the holiday show. Don’t get fooled by its name, it’s not related to the holiday season in any other way than the date it was launched on (December 2016). Enter “Holiday” in the technician-login screen and the car (Model X) will put on a show, flapping its gullwing rear doors and blinking its lights in perfect tune with Trans-Siberian Orchestra’s Wizards in Winter.

Lastly, the huge touchscreen found in the Tesla can be turned into a proper sketchpad (with a full-color palette and all) by tapping the “T” symbol three times in a row. Tesla might not be perfectly safe as a self-driving car yet (and it’s not its fault but rather the road infrastructure’s) but it already has a cool boredom repellant.

These are all over the Internet now, but they’ve started as Easter eggs that the users discovered by themselves (or maybe with some help but definitely not from the car’s brochure); for example, the submarine Tesla Easter egg took a whole year to be discovered by someone. This, of course, makes you think of just how many undiscovered secrets Tesla has. And this is exactly what an Easter egg should be.

Tesla has the most hidden features so far but it’s not the only brand that tried to pull off proper Easter egg moves. The limited-edition DS3 Inès de la Fressange (500 copies) and the DS4 Crossback Moondust (150 units) will play a special track (and the subsequent music video) every time your car encounters one of its kind on the road. For that, you’ll have to have a special app installed on your smartphone, and wait for the unlikeliness to happen. This is more of a marketing stunt but it has this Easter egg element in it.

However, the most savage hidden feature that we’ve seen so far comes from a Russian commercial vehicle that lets you play Tetris on its instrument cluster dotted screen. And by now means you can discover this by yourself.