Most distracting car infotainment systems

We put 20 cars’ infotainment systems and air-con controls to the test 
to see how distracting they are for drivers to operate on the move...

Infotainment test MG ZS

20. MG ZS EV with 8.0in touchscreen

Score 12/30

Infotainment test MG ZS

While the ZS finishes last, it’s not all bad news, with the air-con dials (for temperature and fan) being large and easy to operate.

Touching the screen easily gets you onto the sat-nav map page. However, three steps are needed to end guidance and the map isn’t accurate when you try to zoom out with your fingers. To make matters worse, the system is painfully slow to respond and crashes frequently, so you find yourself looking back at the screen repeatedly to make sure it has done what you’ve asked it to do.

Because the radio stations are in ensembles, you have to scroll to the correct group first and then search for your chosen station, although life is much easier once you’ve saved your favourites. 

The ZS doesn’t have a voice recognition system, but you can activate a smartphone system via a steering wheel button. 

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19. Fiat 500X with 7.0in touchscreen and Uconnect Live

Score 14/30

Infotainment test Fiat 500X

The 500X’s temperature and fan dials are big and simple, although it’s quite a stretch to reach them.  

The touchscreen is also positioned quite a long way from the driver and the icons on it are small, so they’re not easy to read. And while you get an arrow icon that makes zooming fairly simple, the process is slow and you have to go through three steps to stop guidance. Nor is it obvious which button to press first. The radio stations are in alphabetical order, but the slow screen response makes it time-consuming to scroll through them.

It takes five steps to get voice control to navigate to the nearest service station and you need to say exactly the right command each time and confirm every instruction by saying ‘yes’. We were only offered one petrol station, whereas others systems showed as many as 60.

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18. Skoda Citigo-e iV with colour screen and phone holder

Score 16/30

Infotainment test Citigo

The separate buttons for the fan and temperature control are easy to reach and operate. The dial that you use to scroll through the list of radio stations doesn’t make you take your eyes off the road for too long, but the readout is lower than is ideal.

In addition, there isn’t an integrated sat-nav system; instead, Skoda provides a cradle for your smartphone and you have to use that. Opt for Google Maps and it’s just one touch to end guidance. However, it’s a stretch to reach the screen and zooming in and out of the map can be fiddly on the move; the size of the problem is, unsurprisingly, linked to the size of your phone. There’s no voice
control, either, and while you can use your phone’s voice control system, this requires you to select the radio station you want using the phone rather than the dashboard controls.

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17. Peugeot 508 SW with 10.0in Connected 3D Navigation and voice recognition

Score 17/30

Infotainment test Peugeot 508

The fan and temperature controls can be accessed only via the touchscreen, so adjusting them is slow. What’s more, the buttons for bringing up the air-con, radio, sat-nav and so on on the touchscreen come straight out of the dash like piano keys and have pale icons on them, making them quite difficult to read.

Once you’ve located the map, you can at least zoom in and out accurately by pinching the screen, although it wouldn’t zoom out far enough to let us see our whole route. Meanwhile, ending navigation just requires you to press two onscreen icons.

There’s a navigation bar to the right of the main radio station list that helps you scroll through these more easily.

You need to know the correct command to get the voice control to respond, but you then need to go through just two steps to complete your task.

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16. Lexus RX with 12.3in multimedia display

Score 18/30

Infotainment test Lexus RX

Although you can jump to the RX’s main navigation menu using a button on the centre console, you then need to use a touchpad to locate the zoom icon on the screen and press it repeatedly; this is really fiddly. There are two steps to end route guidance, and this, too, is tricky due to the touchpad system. 

Similarly, you can use the shortcut button on the centre console to get into the main radio menu, but it’s then time-consuming to scroll using the touchpad. This is easier once you’ve input your favourite stations, and some Lexus models have a radio tuner on the volume button, making life easier still.

The climate control buttons work well enough, and after pressing a button to activate voice control, you just need to say ‘find the next petrol station’ to bring up a list of options, then tell it which one you want.

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