Infotainment confusion

There was a time when an infotainment system was something you ticked in the options list when ordering your car without thinking much about it. Whether it was called iDrive (BMW), Comand (MB) or something else, systems were rather similar – and rather limited in their capabilities.

This all changed with Tesla’s giant screen and new standard for in-car entertainment, and it has kept (and will keep) changing ever since. At the same time, manufacturers’ understandable wish to bring the latest to market has also created different standards between brands, but actually also between similar models of the same manufacturer, that you’d better be aware of;

  • Buy a new Audi Q8 (left) and you’ll get two very fancy touch screens on the center console, handling almost all in-car functions at the price of a lot of fatty fingerprints. Buy a new Q7 (right) and you will still get the old-looking navigation screen on the dashboard, and traditional controls for seat heating and ventilation. It’s not a wild guess that the A7 will get the dual screens in the next facelift, but it’s not yet the case.

  • In Stuttgart it’s even more confusing: buy the brand new Mercedes GLE (left) and you will get the new, double 12-inch screens with touchscreen functionality through the MBUX software. Buy the new E-class (right) and the screens will look exactly the same but will not yet have MBUX and thus no touch functionality.

Speaking of MBUX (and the latest BMW iDrive), this latest update also gives you the option to talk to your car, starting with the catchy phrase “Hey Mercedes/BMW”. I’ll let you judge for yourself if that’s a drawback or not…

So in other words, if you’re in the market for a new or recent pre-owned car, this has implications. As a seller in 3-4 years of your 2018 Q7, you’ll most probably be punished financially for having a car with that old-looking, single screen. But as a buyer, you will have a great negotiating position already today if you prefer physical, non-fatty buttons that you can locate with your fingers without looking away from the road, and you buy a car for driving rather than talking to it.

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