The “eyes” (and fingers) have it—BMW has easiest to use infotainment and climate control system, while MG has the worst. This is judged by UK-based What Car?.
The leading consumer champion and new car buying platform tested 20 different in-car systems that encompass the majority of the different types of infotainment systems and dashboard layouts on offer in the latest new cars.
Their testers performed six tasks that drivers frequently do while on the move, including changing the temperature, zooming out on a set sat-nav route, and changing from one radio station to another, with each action timed.
Distracted driving can be quite dangerous, notes What Car?. Every second spent looking away can be dangerous, as a vehicle moving at around 50 km/h will travel 13.5 meters every second.
In their research, What Car? says that systems with physical buttons are much less distracting to use on the move than those that can only be altered using a touchscreen.
It took twice as long to adjust climate controls on some cars with touchscreen controls rather than physical dials. And it took up to four times longer to zoom out of the sat-nav map to view a pre-programmed route using a touchscreen than it did using a rotary dial controller. The easiest systems for adjusting the sat-nav map were Audi’s Virtual Cockpit Plus and BMW’s iDrive, while the fiddliest was the Lexus 12.3-in multimedia display.
The tests also highlighted the benefits of having a range of different ways of doing a task, so the driver can choose the most convenient for each situation. The best systems let you use physical buttons, the touchscreen, or voice control to do a wide range of commands.
Using a sophisticated voice control system is the least distracting way of doing many tasks. The systems in the Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz all recognize natural speech, so you can activate them by talking and then ask them to carry out your desired task and hardly take your eyes off the road at all. However, not all voice control systems are as intuitive or fast to respond; testers were looking away from the road for more than twice as long in cars with the worst systems.
Here’s how every infotainment system ranked with its rank and total score out of a perfect 30:
- BMW 3 Series with Live Cockpit Professional – 28
- Mercedes-Benz CLA with 10.25-inch Touchscreen – 27
- Porsche Panamera with Connect Plus and PCM – 27
- Audi Q3 with Virtual Cockpit Plus – 26
- Mazda3 with 8.8-inch and Mazda Connect – 25
- Volkswagen Passat with 8-inch Composition Media System – 24
- Ford Fiesta with SYNC 3 and FordPass – 23
- Hyundai Ioniq with 10.25-inch Touchscreen – 22
- Vauxhall Corsa with 10-inch Multimedia Navi Pro – 22
- Skoda Kamiq with 9.2-inch Touchscreen – 21
- Jaguar XE with 10-inch Touch Pro Duo – 21
- Volvo S60 with SENSUS – 20
- Toyota Corolla with Touch 2 – 20
- Nissan Juke with Nissan Connect – 19
- Honda CR-V with 7-inch Touchscreen – 18
- Lexus RX with 12.3-inch Multimedia Display – 18
- Peugeot 508 with 10-inch Connected 3D Navigation – 17
- Skoda Citigo-e iV with Color Screen – 16
- Fiat 500X with 7-inch Touchscreen and Uconnect Live – 14
- MG ZS with 8-inch Touchscreen - 12