Well here we are after a lot of touching, twisting and intimate discussion (ha ha) with the winners of our touchscreen comparison test. Based on the test criteria that we outlined in our introductory story, here are the best systems that you can get in cars priced under the Rs 10 lakhs mark. At the outset, we would like to say that this was a very closely fought competition and no doubt you would be able to figure out why our winner deserved the top step of the podium.
Before you read on, here is a link to the story about the touchscreen systems that came in 6th, 5th and 4th place in this test as well as our introductory story that details how we went about this.
Hyundai Grand i10- 75.58/100
Emerging on the bottom step of the podium is the infotainment system found in the Hyundai Grand i10. The 7.0-inch display has big fonts but unlike the Kwid, where the same has been applied, it looks far more premium here. Despite being angled oddly, the display quality in heavy sunlight does not suffer and you can see everything.
The placement on the dashboard is high and this means it is easily visible but not the best when it comes to being accessible. The physical buttons are in plenty while there are also two rotary knobs that make scrolling an easy process. However, when you look at the SYNC 3 system that’s come in above this one, the quality, both in terms of appearance as well as touch and feel, is definitely a few grades lower than it should be. There’s no desirable appeal and it certainly looks like more weight has been put behind function rather than form.
Like the Honda system, this one too uses a black background but there’s a blue tinge to the display and this does boost the overall appearance. The icons are clean, crisp and neat and thanks to their large size, everything is easily legible. We feel that Hyundai could invested more in adding some pizzazz to the overall look and feel of the menus, colours and transitions which would have surely rated the Hyundai system higher. But like the exterior, this too is more function than form.
In the features section, Hyundai’s system offers USB input and an AUX-IN, but it only offers navigation via Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. On the other hand, this is not a bad thing at all as that’s what most people use these days. Literally, this infotainment system has scored a third place in 3 out of the 4 tests that we subjected it to and well, you can see the result for yourself.
2. Ford Freestyle-76.69/100
Finishing second on the podium is Ford’s SYNC 3 infotainment system. There’s quite lot to be impressed with this system and to be very honest, most of the team thought it would win. But given how much it’s scored with respect to the other screens, this is excellent performance by a system that’s long been overdue for Ford in this segment.
The display quality is high, thanks to a well calibrated backlighting system and it is the only one that is freestanding. This, to a large extent, does negate the low(er) score in terms of size. The freestanding nature of the display also means it’s got a good shield against low visibility in terms of direct sunlight.
The Freestyle has managed to hit a big one in terms of ergonomics as the positioning of the screen, the size of the physical buttons and even their touch and feel are all good quality. Even in terms of overall appearance, the gloss black surrounds for the system adds a premium touch to the overall feel of the system. However, the gloss black nature of the display means it is prone to smudges quite easily.
In typical no-nonsense Ford fashion, all the icons are clear cut and are just that right size where it’s not too big but not that small that one really has to struggle to read what’s on the screen. There’s no lag between screens and even here. you get a smart phone-like tiled menu for various icons. One such neat little touch is that there’s a very pleasant blue tinge, in the shade of Ford’s signature blue, to the display.
In terms of features there’s two USB ports, in-built navigation and the ability to download apps onto the system. In addition, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are a a part of the package. Where the Freestyle has lost the battle to our winning car is in terms of connectivity options. You only get dual USB ports and that too, only on the top-of-the-line Titanium variant as all the other variants of the Freestyle only get 1 USB port. The voice recognition system is of average quality and struggled even for the most basic of Indian names as well as to recognise our voices when issuing commands for various functions.
1. Volkswagen Ameo- 81.31/100
Here we are. The gewinner of our touchscreen comparison test- The Volkswagen infotainment system. And right at the outset, we would like to say, we were all surprised that not only did this infotainment system manage to beat Ford’s SYNC 3 system, it also did by a big margin! Read on to find out why…..
There’s a saying that if you want something well engineered and sound to use, then go to the Germans. As you can tell I’ve made up every word of that saying but our winner in this fight makes my fake proverb very true. And as the Germans would do, let us get straight to the point (s) with teutonic efficiency. And here, the VW infotainment system has earned its bread by topping out the test in terms of screen size and features. At the outset, it would seem like the screen is placed too low but as you start using the system, it’s well thought out angle and positioning have earned it a top score. This lower placement also means that it is protected against lack of visibility in direct sunlight. This feat is also no doubt aided by a well calibrated backlighting system.
The other big winner for this infotainment system is features. You get all the connectivity options that we considered for our test and literally, the only drawback we can see is that you have to connect your smart device and load up Android Auto/ Apple CarPlay to use maps. Like the Freestyle, there’s a host of physical buttons to quickly access various functions and while the icons and transitions are nothing to write home about, they are very smooth and glitch free.
The colour scheme of white text over a black background is surprisingly pleasing to the eyes and helps everything stand out even in the darkness. All the dividing lines in the display have the GTi (esque) red shade and it is little touches like this, that really catch the eye. The system did, however, struggle with voice commands and it took a lot of effort for even basic Indian names let alone the larger ones with complicated surnames. In terms of pure scoring, the Volkswagen infotainment system has beaten Ford’s SYNC3 technology thanks to generating relatively higher numbers across all four tests.
Photos: Kapil Angane