Opinion

Opinion: Touchscreens in cars are a menace

by James Mills
25 August 2022 4 min read
Opinion: Touchscreens in cars are a menace
Photos: Glenn Lindberg/Vi Bilägare

The Swedes are a curious bunch. They build the world’s safest cars but from little more than walking age they’ll teach their children how to fell a tree with an axe, catch fish from the surface of a (hopefully) frozen lake and make a warming fire outdoors, using a tree trunk, a chainsaw and a can of petrol.

They are sensible and considerate in working hours, wild and uninhibited when night falls and the drinks flow. Obeying speed limits comes naturally, yet few nations’ drivers are better at drifting a car sideways through a snow-covered pine forest.

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In some small way, this explains why, when Sweden’s motoring journalists gets their hands on a new car, they don’t do what the Brits, Americans and Germans do, and skid it around a test track or racing circuit until its tyres resemble balls of wire wool and the brakes appear to have erupted into a small bonfire. Oh no. The Swedes turn all serious, devising tests for real-world driving scenarios which you or I are unlikely to encounter in our lifetime but the likes of which keep Sweden’s reviewers awake at night.

Remember the Elk test? In 1997, a simple, standard testing procedure caused the board of Mercedes-Benz to drop everything they were doing – namely, launching the new Maybach Concept to the world’s media, at the Tokyo Motor Show – and fly back to Stuttgart, making damage-limitation plans as they went which would have to be presented to Juergen Schrempp, Mercedes’ CEO, the moment they touched down.

The Elk test was the work of Teknikens Värld, a Swedish car magazine. It was designed to probe at a car’s handling characteristics during a sudden, emergency lane change – such as when a 600kg moose stepped out in front of your Saab or Volvo.

That simple test – one which Mercedes had not subjected it’s new, mass-market A-Class to – literally tripped up the company’s most significant car yet. It’s estimated that a recall of the first 17,000 cars on the road, and subsequent fitment of an Electronic Stability Programme (ESP) as standard cost the company more than €2.5 billion more than it had intended to invest in the project.

So you can understand that when Sweden’s car reviewers are presented with modern cars with functions mostly operated through touchscreen systems, they don’t reach for their iPhone to stream their favourite podcast, or ask the car to order them a Foodora (their Deliveroo equivalent). They search for flaws.

How, they ask, is scrolling, swiping and jabbing your way through numerous menus safer than using conventional buttons or stalks on the steering column?

And, of course, they don’t just pose the question, they go in search of the answer – ‘they’ in this case being Vi Bilägare, a consumer magazine that has been doing sensible things with cars since 1930.

The answer doesn’t make for comfortable reading, at least, it doesn’t if you’re a car manufacturer that claims touchscreens offer progress through convenience, extra features, upgrades over time and, er, a virtual whoopee cushion. Using a 2005 era Volvo V70 as a benchmark, Vi Bilägare magazine established how long it takes the average driver to perform common tasks when at the wheel. These were changing the temperature of the climate control, choosing a specific radio station, resetting the trip computer and lowering the brightness of the instruments.

So far, so straightforward. The driver had to perform the tasks while travelling at motorway speeds, and had had the opportunity to familiarise themselves with all the cars being tested. So, let’s cut to the chase; if you performed the tasks in the built-with-buttons Volvo V70 while driving, how long would it take and how far would you have gone? It took all of 10 seconds and the distance travelled was 306 metres.

The worst offender of the new cars was an MG Marvel R, an electric, family-sized SUV, which took 47 seconds and covered 1372 metres in that time.

Ah, you may be scoffing at this point, it’s ‘just’ a rebadged Roewe Chinese car that can’t compete with the might of Europe’s prestigious car makers. If only. The next worst offender was BMW’s flagship electric car, the iX. Its driver needed 30 seconds to perform the simple tasks, taking them 928 metres down the motorway. The acclaimed Hyundai Ioniq 5 took 27 seconds and 815 metres. Pin-up for the Tesla fan club, the Model 3, needed 24 seconds and 717 metres, while Volkswagen’s post-dieselgate rush job, the poorly received ID.3, clocked in at 26 seconds and 786 metres.

touchscreens in cars are dangerous

Cars, you may have noticed, have never been more expensive. And as we transition to electric, that cost burden to the consumer is only going to increase. Many manufacturers say they will phase out high-volume, low-margin cheap cars in favour of posh and pricey alternatives that come packed with profit.

That escalating cost is also partly because car makers can’t justify fitting small cars with all the safety equipment that will be mandatory in the future. Yet the same safety bodies and rule makers, who are forcing expense upon consumers in the name of our wellbeing, have buried their heads in the sand over touchscreen tech in cars.

If I said to you, “I’m rubbish at using an iPad; would you send a message for me and then check the weather, please?” while you were driving, you’d tell me where to shove it. Yet these screens have proliferated for reasons of… you guessed it, cost.

Stuff you and I knew was flawed is being forced on us whether we like it or not.

As self-driving systems take a hold, more independent testers should take a leaf out of Teknikens Värld’s and Vi Bilägare’s book and highlight the hidden dangers of progress.

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Comments

  • John Ash says:

    Lets face it. 90%? of features related to the modern car today, have nothing to do with simply driving it. Hands on the wheel, accelerator, brake , clutch and basic instrumentation speedo etc.
    Touch screen, infotainment etc, etc, etc; marketing devices to convince you what you really think you need!
    As for driverless cars, or whatever they are called!!!!!

  • Stephen Meadows says:

    My wife has a problem even starting up the latest siemens dishwasher in the kitchen using a touch screen never mind in a car – it is utter madness!!!

  • Philip+Winward says:

    Touchscreens should be illegal in the front of vehicles. It is far easier and safer to drive a car fitted with conventional switches, buttons and levers.You can locate them by feel and run your fingers across a bank of switches and operate the heated rear window because you know it is the second switch from the left and feel it click on. Also which idiot came up with the idea of control by gestures? , what a waste of time and money.

  • Ian Dormer says:

    Agreed. It’s illegal to use your phone while driving but the manufacturer gives you a tablet to distract in its place. I can operate every switch in my car without taking my eyes off the road – does that make me a safer driver or just show that I’m of the analogue generation?

  • ian john howat says:

    Im a classic car owner ,a 1983 triumph acclaim ,before that 1960 wolseley, i would not waste money on a new car ,anything made after 1990 is a money pit ,too much electronics ,

  • Aaron says:

    The legislators have failed us. The same people who think removing hard shoulders is safe. F1 cars have dozens of steering wheel controls but all tactile still. We are going to need driverless cars to protect us from drivers who aren’t driving their cars !

  • Graeme Aldous says:

    It’s for this very reason that I’m deserting my long-term love of Land Rover, and have ordered a Grenadier. Yes, it HAS a screen, but the vital things one needs to do when driving can be operated by real switches… while wearing gloves!

  • Marco Makaus says:

    I think realised touch screens are cheaper than switches, cables, etc – and it’s much easier to use the same basic components on different models. So they try to convince us that they are more modern, efficient and cool – while they mostly allow them a higher margin and a simpler manufacturing process…

  • David says:

    So glad to find it’s not just me that had wondered about this! I did try an ID3, the touch screen controls were a major factor in the decision not to buy one.

  • Nigel says:

    Touchscreens are a distraction and a danger. It doesn’t help either, when the screens are supplied with unconventional i/o interfaces such as non QWERTY keyboards. When driving my Discovery 4, the passenger is asked to interact with the touch screen.

  • Derek Pywell says:

    Touch screens don’t always work with my fingers, I use a rubber tipped pen with my phone. This is one reason why I am sticking with my old VW

  • Robert Vass says:

    Touchscreens are dangerous
    As simple as they appear to be, they distract drivers from the task of driving and are much poorer than mechanical switches. I have two daily drivers, one with a screen, one without. The screen is a retrograde feature with no advantage other than manufacturing cost.

  • Denise Ibbertson says:

    Once again, we are being forced to change the way we drive by manufacturers who just want to make money and don’t care about the consumer – or if the changes kill us. I think they take the view that consumers are stupid people who can be fooled by the media – manipulated by (usually very young tech minded) overpaid PR people employed by the manufacturers. I don’t have a problem with a Sat Nav that can be set before driving but it makes me wonder what percentage of accidents and deaths are caused by touchscreens – probably much, much higher than acknowledged.

  • Robert Jones says:

    A driver using a touchscreen that is not built into the car is committing an offence, a driver that is using a touchscreen that is built into the car is not committing an offence. The distraction is exactly the same. I think all touchscreens built into in cars should be prohibited as they have been proven to be less safe than the alternatives by a wide margin.

  • James says:

    Using a touch screen is surely the same as using a smartphone in a car which is illegal as the uk law stands

  • David Sharman says:

    Touch screens are a Menace. Furthermore we don’t need all the gadgets to tell us when it’s dark or raining. Give me a comfortable leather seat and a plush interior without all the electronic crap!

  • Barrie Dixon says:

    Give me a car with a dial that tells me what speed I’m going at: give me a switch to turn on the lights, or the wipers, or the heater: give me a radio, with a CD player. Oh, hang on a second; that’s just what my classic car has! I don’t need a warning to tell me I’m too close to the car in front, or that I made a lane change, or there’s a bend coming up. I have a screen right in front of me for all of that. It’s not a touch screen, it’s a windscreen!

  • Adrian Colley says:

    When voice control arrived I assumed it would evolve and replace most switched controls – a heads-up for speed and nav instructions and dashboard with touch screens are pointless

  • Neil Wallace says:

    I agree with all the comments so far. While we are about it, scrap NCAP so-called safety tests as they are dangerous. Lane assist, radar or lidar assisted braking, electronic handbrakes, and all the rest should be banned. And who says they are cheaper to manufacture; have you had to replace any of these features? Might cost you more than the car is worth eventually, so you scrap the car. What a wonderfully friendly environmental and climate sensitive feature, having to buy a replacement car. And that’s before we get to speed controls based on roadside signs you cannot see, lane control based on white lines that aren’t there, and so on. People need to be taught that you are driving a potentially lethal lump of metal, and not a mobile entertainment centre you can – apparently – talk to.

  • Simon Rockman says:

    As you get older the conductivity in your fingers reduces. Modern touch screens are capacitive using technology developed in the UK by James Tagg. They are unsuitable for many, older, people. I’d also argue that at night looking from a bright screen to a dimly lit road is dangerous. I put an Android head unit into my MX5 hated it and reinstated the original CD player.

  • George Colman says:

    Excellent article, should be sent to all MP’s in UK. JLR models have been criticised for years for dis functional & distracting screens to name just one make.

  • Chris Burridge says:

    I agree touch screens are distracting & dangerous. I try not to use mine while driving. Voice instruction is surely the answer.

  • JimClark says:

    It saves them money to remove switches. That’s a clincher.
    FIA car testing need to wake up.
    Plus unless road dead smooth your hand wobbles = wrong virtual button.

    • James Mills says:

      Agreed. The stability issue is such an issue in the UK, where our roads are in such poor condition and ride comfort isn’t what it used to be…

  • Steve King says:

    I upgraded the audio system in my 2002 Land Rover Defender to a double DIN unit that has has Bluetooth connectivity and a useful hands free phone feature. The controls are mainly touchscreen and trying to stab your fingers in the correct area without taking your eyes off the road is impossible! Within a few weeks I bought a remote control and I find this much easier and safer to use.

  • Steve George says:

    Latest Mazda models have a touch screen that only works when the car is stationary with hand brake on or in park.
    Seems like a good idea to me.

  • peter fryer says:

    I hate touchscreens and they appear to hate me, or at least my fingertips as they refuse to acknowledge their existence. I also wonder what happens when you car automatically “updates” and the icons aren’t where they were yesterday?
    I also hate sticking cars together with glue, windscreens OK, wings maybe but chassis members NO. I imagine classic shows of the future where the electric OMG 3000 drives onto the field and slowly falls apart like a clowns car. The manufactures response will no doubt be “it had a design life of 15 years”

  • David Brown (no Aston Martin connection!) says:

    Don’t use/touch a mobile phone while driving but you can have a touch screen for a variety of functions within the car? Absolutely crazy. Why doesn’t the government ban them? Too much revenue from the wider automobile industry, of course.

  • Andy Gill says:

    It appears that the contributors to this debate ALL think touch screens are the devil’s work. Based on this alone, the government’s of the civilised world need to wake up and stop its seemingly never ending march.

  • Mike Holdsworth says:

    I am convinced that touch screens are a contributory item in motoring accidents. They are a distraction from the road ahead. Some, as in Tesla cars are huge and must be a major distraction. In someways they are worse than a mobile phone. Proper controls which in a familiar vehicle can be operated without looking at them are much safer. This obsession with Tec is taking away the joy of driving and is a real danger to motorists and other road users. I will never own a car which relies on touch screens to operate the vehicle.

  • Derek Renowden says:

    If you have an accident while you are looking at the touchscreen in the middle of the car , who is responsible ????? ,you or the manufacturer

  • James Mould says:

    It’s illegal to use a mobile phone whilst driving, so why is it regarded as acceptable to use a touchscreen on the move? The only safe way to use one is to park up in a safe place and use the touchscreen functions whilst stationery. Not rocket science, is it?!!

  • Old guy says:

    I agree with the comments made above, we have been led down this road for no good reason other than that the manufacturer finds it beneficial.
    It has further reduced the already poor standard of driving and even the so called professional drivers i.e. those who drive for a living seem unable to resist using tablets, smartphones etc whilst (I struggle to use the word driving in this context) pretending to be in control of their vehicle.

  • John Fox says:

    This discussion reflects what I have been thinking for a long time. Touch screens are fine for setting parameters that will not be changed during driving. But, for anything else tactile switches are the answer because you know that the switch you want is third from the left and you don’t have to take your eyes off the road. My Mazda 2 locks out the touch screen while the vehicle is in motion but that prevents the passenger from changing the sat-nav. OK, it shouldn’t really be necesary once the journey has started but sometimes a different route is proposed and might need action.
    In most situations I think using a touch screen while driving is just as dangerous as using a hand held phone. What are the manufacturers thinking of?

  • Jamie Banks says:

    I agree with the very obvious groundswell of opinion on touchscreens in cars generally and, while we’re reverting to positive-feel switches for dashboard controls, may I put in a plea for the return of handbrake levers as standard? I have no objection to electronically operated handbrakes being optional extras for those unable or unwilling to operate a lever, but the electronic devices fitted to cars I have owned have demonstrated a clear lack of reliability, and have proved a problem even for main agents to repair!

  • MR TREVOR WILLARD says:

    Anything that forces the driver to take their eyes off the road for any length of time is a serious distraction, like using a mobile phone. As such, touch screens are a serious distraction and should be banned. Old school switches and dials directly associated with the adjustment you want to make is the only answer. Likewise as previously mentioned, if you take your eyes off the road at night to look at a touch screen, selecting from menus to make a minor adjustment, because of the brightness of a touch screen, your eyes will take that much longer to adjust when you look at where you’re going again, very dangerous.

  • Simon Rowlands says:

    I have a touchscreen in my current 5 series, it is potentially a real menace, I absolutely will not use it when driving as it’s more dangerous than using a phone (which I don’t do either) as a minimum it should be vehicle motion restricted but better engine off, technology is not always the future

  • Terry says:

    Hear hear to everything said above. By the way it would be an offence to use any control in the car which resulted in you driving without due care and attention, not that creating laws (for eg against using touch screens while driving) ever stopped anyone from doing the wrong thing – Mr Blair!

  • Brian+Bremer says:

    I have now had two leased vehicles both with touch screens, I find them a total waste of time. So much of what’s available has no place in driving and is totally distracting.
    It’s time we went back to common sense driving. Bring back switches, steering wheel controls and rotary dials.
    Instead of driving the market by manufactures purely bent on greed based on “ this what we want the customer to perceive he/she needs this”, return to us control of cars that are actually affordable.
    I am Disabled and doubt I will enter a further Lease due to overpricing and no longer affordable.

  • Nigel Keeling says:

    I was about to put my deposit down for a replacement Golf Alltrack when two things resulted in the cancellation of the order. one the year long delivery time I was given and the real crunch was trying a Golf 8 dashboard and lighting controls – not nice. Hopefully a Golf 8.5 could come out with Sensible manual controls as my existing Alltrack which some reviews say keep the last of the Golf 7 Alltracks – super car. Not the 8.

  • Geoff says:

    Touch screens are not good. we drive a Volvo XC40. Great car, except for the technology. Touch screen is a menace, too many sub menus, too much searching and if you try to do something whilst driving, it is unsafe and we try to never do that. Give me buttons and switches every time. Moreover, a touch screen when the car is parked shows every finger mark and smear. Not a good look.

  • Neville Amos says:

    We just do not need any of this stuff, what is wrong with just good old fashioned get in the car and drive it. these pieces of equipment in newer cars looks unsightly and and completely takes away the charm of a vehicle. It is like looking at an I Pad on your dash board. and as this exercise shows it clearly is not safe for motorists or pedestrians.

  • McG says:

    The last car show I went to looked like I was at a CES (Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas. “Connect to 5G!” “Check your messages!” “Send Texts… While you drive!!” I had to check my ticket to make sure I was still at a show for new cars.

    Look, touch screens are fine at the office because you are going zero miles per hour, but when you are behind the wheel of a car, car-makers have forgotten that we are all really just smart monkeys that interface with the world around us with our eyes, ears and… wait for it… hands!

    Our hands with fingers and opposable thumbs are really good at spatially learning and remembering where common knobs, buttons and stalks are placed and how to use them. We’re built for that. But a touch screen is not intuitive to use with your hand while your eyes still watch the road unfolding in front of you. You have to divert attention and look at the screen, and then you have to detach your mind from job #1 (driving) and pay attention to job #26 (adjusting the audio volume). Twenty seconds later when you look back at the road, your eyes and mind have to re-adjust to the “new” visual scenario. Fighter pilots call this situational awareness and it takes a few more seconds to get your bearings when you look away for that long.

    Touch screens sever your mind from being situationally aware of what’s happening in front of you on the road as you driver. They are stupid and dangerous and I cannot believe that car makers don’t know that they are distracting drivers.

    Drivers playing with touch screens (including their phones) drift out of their lane and drive too slow, or they brake when they should go, or go when they should be slowing down. It’s insane, and we are all less safe with these systems in cars driven by smart monkeys. To add insult to injury, so-called new car “safety” systems like “lane-departure warning” and “automatic braking” are just bandages to cover up for the distraction caused by touch screens.

    I drive older analog cars, so I guess I’m considered to be a ludite, but at least I’m not part of the problem. But because of the distraction menace of touch screens in cars, on every drive I now have to be more aware of the distracted drivers around me who are playing with their screens.

    Give me a manual transmission, and a good old fashioned tachometer and speedometer with dials any day!

  • Monte Gingery says:

    Screens just suck. 100k for a Mercedes’ with iPad screen.NO! Get me some proper industrial designers.
    Take ‘60’s Fleetwood, ‘80’s S Class, ‘62 Imperial’ ‘’64 Vette 28-32 Bentley for proper placement of controls and decent looking gauges and speedos. Touchscreen are new 1-800- Lawyers liability suits for crashes due to distraction….waiting to happen.

  • Monte Gingery says:

    Hagerty- please forward these comments to chairman of respective Car Manufacturers and also tell them to the above- NO F-ing mandates on Electric Cars let the market sort it out.
    Arrrrgghh Lads to the Pitchforks and Mace

  • Chris Blundell says:

    I agree that all common functions should be worked via switches/buttons. Use of a touchscreen is distracting, especially where the interface is not intuitive and you have to go through layers of menus to carry out a simple function. My wife insists on working the touchscreen when we are travelling to reduce the opportunities for me to get distracted (difficult when I’m alone in the car!).

  • Jeffrey+Bridges says:

    These touchscreens are there simply because the technology exists and the manufacturers choose to inflict them on car buyers. They are a dreadful idea and if it’s illegal to use a hand held electronic device whilst driving – how can operating a fixed touchscreen be safe?
    I drive a 2002 Rover 75, no silly unnecessary electronics and a lovely car. My wife’s 2018 Honda Jazz Navi has a screen for the audio, it’s a nightmare, her previous Jazz was fine with buttons. I also have two 1950’s cars, they are a joy with no silly gadgets and loads of character.

  • Paul says:

    Taking your hand off the wheel and your eye off the road is bad driving; a danger to the driver and a menace to all other road users.

  • Alan Scholey says:

    So Lets show car companys we do not need these cars stop buying them and all start buying old cars that if are well maintaned are as reliable as new cars I have Vauxhall Velox PA have owned 11 years have been Cornwall Scotland never a Breakdown Look after your Car and your Car will Look after you

  • Lorde Late says:

    Great comments!
    Just to say having dealt with several new JLR products in the Family touch screens are definately a crock of s**t. my old 35th anniversary L322 has simple controls for the heater etc that one can operate with out removing ones gaze from the job in hand. And i’m hoping sooner or later will be considered a bit of a classic.

  • Julian+Smith says:

    One word sums up the problem. Tactility. If you have physical stalks, switches, buttons, you can feel for them. If you get to know them you can operate them without ever taking your eyes off the road. But with touchscreens you have to look, just to find them. A current F1 car steering wheel has a huge number of controls built into it. They are all tactile. ‘cos you need eyes on the prize at 200mph. I have a touchscreen head unit but I have fitted bluetooth remote controls onto the steering wheel, with buttons. Otherwise I couldn’t use it in motion.

  • Mike Appleyard says:

    60 mph is 88 feet per second so any time not looking ahead is extremely dangerous. Cheap for the manufacturers but hopeless in bright sun from the rear, full of finger marks, confusing at times. Absolute menace in other words so its high time the politicians/ law makers woke up (fat chance) so keep contacting your local mp! next on the list is modern lights, stupid little slots of rear flashers/brake lights (Peugeot, Audi, Jaguar). who let the manufacturers off the hook?

  • Paul says:

    Why are all these things not becoming voice operated? If I can tell Siri to text someone to say I’m running late without taking my hands off the wheel or my eyes off the road, why can’t I tell the car to switch the fog lights on?

  • Mr+Martin+Cz says:

    I’m a fan of smart phones and tablets but chose a conventional stereo for my upgrade in my MR2.
    I agree touchscreens should not be used by a driver, my old Garmin sat nav warns me against using it whilst driving.
    Old fashioned controls are tactile and you can feel your way around them without taking you eyes off the road, where with a touch screen you have to look at it to find the location of every press.

  • Roger Kimbell says:

    Ludicrous fad! The main reason that I will not change my current analogue car for one where I need to take my eye off the road to adjust something that can readily be done by the feel and touch of knobs etc. They should be banned.

  • Mick Dean says:

    “Listen lads, I’ve got a great idea! Er…er….Hagerty and the likes can devise a points system so that the number of screens a car’s got, and the number of menus you’ve got to go through, to adjust things, increases the insurance group rating! The more screens and menus there are, the bigger the insurance risk, and the higher the insurance group for a car! That’ll reign ‘em in a bit! High insurance groups killed the GTi!”

  • Ben says:

    Cars are increasingly full of tech we don’t need – it has been driving up costs for years. And arguably we don’t need SUV style vehicles that are more dangerous to 3rd parties, less efficient, more wasteful in materials, and without significant improvement on interior space. But they can charge more for them too – and the masses flock like sheep to buy them because everyone else is. It is utter madness.

  • Tony Jasper says:

    Touch screens require vision to operate, which means averting your eyes from the road. Conventional switches can be operated by feel. This makes touch screens dangerous and manufacturers are guilty of using populist thinking to overrule common sense. Final responsibility lies with government to ban touch screen cars from public roads.

  • Graeme+Aldous says:

    Very interesting that the one manufacturer coming in for the most criticism here is JLR… reinforcing my decision (after many faithful decades) of ordering a (switch-full) Grenadier.

  • M Edwards says:

    Just imagine, you are driving on the inside lane of a “SMART” motorway but your hand has strayed to the ‘touchscreen” which you are now looking at – but you do not notice the broken down car/wagon in that lane and you are fast approaching – and the adjacent lane to you has solid traffic in it. I hate to consider what happens next….

  • Roger King says:

    I am in my mid 70`s and still an active motoring enthusiast with a decent classic car. However my other two cars are “modern`s with touch screen facilities. Now I have big hands with equally big fingers and I invariably find I have to touch the screen two or three times to get it to work, juggling with my eyes between the road ahead and the screen. How can this be considered safe? Neither of these two cars has a CD player but I could subscribe to a music channel and faff about selecting what I want to hear. Just where are we going with this?

  • Cheryl Evans says:

    I am horrified to find I am completely touchscreen in my new Peugeot, I have to constantly pull over to adjust the fan control and tempreture. It terrifies me to think that any new car on the road is now a liability , unpredictable and dangerous due to drivers being told its safe… I have been driving 32 years with a clean licence.
    What can I do to support bringing back knobs , I don’t know where to start . Please advise.

  • Jon says:

    Thankfully my BMW M4 still has good old fashioned knobs & switches for the comfort features and not the ghastly curved screen of the M3. BMW’s voice control is better than most but still not great. If you say hey BMW turn the seat heater on it goes on to say which seat and what level. All taking your mind off driving. A simple press or two on the button nearest the steering wheel does that for you. On the M3 its either voice control or scrolling through various sub menus which is downright ridiculous and incredibly dangerous. As others have said, attempting to operate a touch screen whilst driving can be considered just as dangerous as using a phone or tablet and should be outlawed, or at the very least the touch screen gets locked whilst the vehicle is in motion.

  • Mark says:

    I drive a 2021 VW id.3 Tour 5, luckily I got it before they discontinued the 82 Kwh battery “tour 5” and the cost of the car with smaller 58 Kwh battery is now around the same price I paid for the 82 Kwh and worse again, with much reduced equipment.

    I have had to endure the hideous infotainment system, the latest software update improved things somewhat but you simply can not replace buttons, switches and knobs with touch screen, things like changing the radio stations, blower speed and setting the air to windscreen, body, feet etc is a hideous task that was previously a simple matter. The steering even has that very irritating haptic “buttons” it’s horrible to use.

    I actually hate the system and I believe the latest gen Golf has the same system ?

    Voice activation works occasionally but then the kids figured out they could activate the system and turn on my heated seats and roast me, turn the temp up or down or continuously cause problems by changing temp or radio stations so I disabled voice control.

    We can tank Tesla for this shit, I’m so p1ssed off with the use of touch screen for basic functions that I will absolutely never buy a new car with such a system where the infotainment system controls so much, having to have my eyes off the screen for basic tasks is unacceptable.

    It’s so infuriating that for my next car unless it’s got traditional proper controls, knobs, buttons for radio, climate etc I will never buy another new car and never buy an EV at these shocking prices again.

    Another thing is that the interior quality is rubbish for the money, did I say never again ?

    I also want AM in my car instead of just FM and DAB that’s non existent where I live, mostly AM,FM comes on a single chip these days so why do car manufacturers insist that they should decide whether I have a decent performing AM radio in my car ? They deliberately disable AM, why ? what’s it to them what I listen to or how I listen ?

    I believe screens have their uses for media and navigation but the screen should only be accessible when the car is stopped.

    One thing for sure is that never, ever again will I purchase a car that is so heavily reliant on screens and software, nor will I buy ev due to cost and the fact that since I went electric in 2015 there hasn’t been huge progress in recharge times on DC, it’s a joke and so is the infrastructure.

    I drive my Wife’s Mitsubishi Outlander Diesel, 2015 model and boy, is it just so refreshing to have traditional Raido, AC controls and none of this menu crap ?

    Car manufacturers need to get back to making cars that just have basic essentials, cheap cars, cars that provide all most people want and need that is cheap transport, all this tech is costing huge money!]

    Never again !

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