BMW’s iDrive was one of the first infotainment systems to be fitted to any car. First seen back in 2001 on the 7 Series, since then there have been many updates and improved versions of the system. It features a rotary swivel wheel, which allows the driver to control the settings such as the vehicle’s sound system, bluetooth, sat-nav, voice-control, interior lighting/ambience and the reversing camera/park assist.
You can also use the controller as a mouse to input your destination into the sat-nav. There is also an array of buttons, known as short-cut buttons, to finding what the driver wants in a shorter space of time a bit easier - features such as navigation, audio, car set-up and telephone can all be accessed. The short-cut buttons make the BMW’s iDrive system more user-friendly.
The MBUX system from Mercedes-Benz has four different ways to operate the infotainment system. You have a touchscreen, steering wheel-mounted pads, a touch-pad and voice control. Saying ‘Hi Mercedes’ activates the command, which allows you to control the infotainment system by voice alone.
You can control the car’s climate control system, navigation, radio stations and you can play services such as Spotify from your phone to the car too. The two mounted steering wheel pads control different functions; the left gives access to the central infotainment system whereas the right pad controls the driver’s information binnacle.
The MMI system fitted to Audi’s cars is a dash-mounted display that is controlled via a touchpad or buttons depending on the model. The system also includes digital dials on higher specification variants, which Audi calls ‘virtual cockpit’. This incorporates a large screen where you would traditionally find the analogue gauges. Meanwhile the traditional instrument cluster has been replaced with more modern digital dials.
You can upgrade the MMI system to receive live traffic updates, 3D graphics and the sat-nav enables Google Map compatibility. The MMI system also features Android Auto or Apple Carplay depending on the model.
Ford Sync 3
The Ford Sync system enables drivers to have an enjoyable driving experience while being kept safe and connected. The latest version, Sync 3, is available with either a 6.5’’ or a 8’’ touchscreen allowing you to input your destination, make calls and control the entertainment system.
The system also features an SOS alarm, causing the emergency services to be called if you have the misfortune to be involved in an accident. The system knows this and will dial 999 automatically. You can also make speech commands such as ‘I’m hungry’ and the system will work out via your precise location and find the nearest cafe or restaurant.
Toyota Touch & Go 2 Plus
Toyota’s Touch & Go has been around since the third-generation Yaris. Now known as Toyota Touch & Go 2 Plus, you can find it in nearly every new Toyota. It features coloured 3D maps, Bluetooth connectivity, reversing camera, voice recognition, text-to-speech and even speed camera warnings. You can also find the nearest restaurants, golf courses, petrol stations and your Toyota dealer via the touchscreen menu.
Volvo Sensus connect
The Sensus connect is Volvo’s user interface that controls various features of the car. There are a variety of different parts that make up the infotainment system. Volvo ‘On Call’ allows you to have a Wi-Fi hotspot to enable better internet connection in your car, while the centre display is a touchscreen mounted portrait on the dash like a big tablet.
Seat Full Link
Seat’s Full link system has Apple Car-Play, Android Auto and MirrorLink available to give buyers full connection between the car and the driver’s smartphone. The system allows the driver to fully connect their smartphone via the car’s infotainment system.
The SeatDrive app is also available, and this can check for your vehicle’s next service, the closest dealership and your vehicle’s status.