One such piece of technology that numerous manufacturers have switched their attention to is car infotainment systems.
Car infotainment systems combine the luxuries of a sat-nav, Bluetooth, radio and online applications in order to deliver a more connected driving experience to the customer. Such technology is becoming increasingly more widespread in the global car market.
Some of the biggest car manufacturers in the world, such as Ford, Vauxhall and Nissan, have equipped numerous models with their own unique infotainment system.
With the different systems available, it can be confusing to know which technology belongs to which manufacturer. For this reason, we at Askaprice have put together this guide explaining the different types of infotainment system available in the UK car market and what they can do.
The Audi Multi Media Interface system, or MMI for short, was introduced in the second generation Audi A8 in 2002 and features in the majority of the company’s model range today. Models of note include the Audi A5, A8 and Q5.
Audi’s system is known as MMI Touch and allows customers to operate the MMI Navigation Plus feature. Vehicle occupants can control the technology via the MMI controls, touch-pad or voice control.
An example of the system being implemented is in the Audi RS 7 Sportback, which features MMI Navigation plus as standard.
Within the RS 7 Sportback, the hard-drive-based system offers an eight-inch high-resolution colour screen and a touchpad in the model’s centre console.
The technology also features topographical map display, places of interest and town models in 3D, while also featuring seven-digit post-code recognition.
BMW iDrive provides drivers with complete control over many of their vehicle’s functions – all while allowing them to concentrate on the road.
The system comprises a Control Display and the Controller in the central console. Four frequently used functions, which are CD, radio, telephone and navigation, are assigned to buttons above the Controller for ease-of-use.
Drivers can then programme eight additional buttons, located beneath the CD/DVD, as desired. Many BMW models also feature iDrive with a voice control function.
In addition to featuring in numerous BMW vehicles, the iDrive system is also used in current Rolls-Royce models – as the company is owned by BMW.
Ford SYNC is one of the more well-known infotainment systems, as it features on the UK’s best-selling car, the Ford Fiesta.
The system also comes equipped within other popular models such as the Focus, C-MAX, B-MAX, Focus ST, Kuga and Transit Custom. This technology will also soon be available on the new Ford Fiesta ST.
Ford SYNC lets drivers make and take mobile phone calls hands-free by using simple voice commands. The system can also read out text messages that have been sent to the driver’s connected phone.
Occupants can also control music on an iPod or MP3 player by using voice commands, ensuring that the system offers a high level of connectivity.
One of the highlights of Ford SYNC is Emergency Assistance. This technology can help occupants make a direct call to the correct Emergency Services in the event of an accident.
Euro NCAP awarded Ford SYNC with Emergency Assistance their highly-rated ‘Advanced’ award, highlighting its global acclaim.
Mercedes-Benz released its COMAND Online internet platform in 2011 in the C-Class and SLK models, with the system now featured across the range, including within the tech-centric Mercedes S-Class.
The Mercedes COMAND Online system with Media Interface features a 12.3-inch colour display, hard disk drive (HDD) navigation with 3D map display, radio, an Emergency Call System (eCall), MP3 compatibility, 10GB music register and in-car Internet access.
Mercedes’ system is capable of playing CDs, MP3 files and video and audio DVDs – with a six-disc DVD changer available as an optional extra.
Customers can pair the infotainment technology with an optional Harman Kardon Logic 7 surround sound system, offering a truly formidable entertainment package.
Featuring in popular new models such as the award-winning Nissan Qashqai, the NissanConnect system offers plenty of gadgets in one convenient package.
Nissan introduced an updated version of the infotainment system for its next-generation Qashqai and X-Trail models.
The latest NissanConnect system includes a DAB radio, parking sensor display and a rear-view camera, all of which can be operate via a seven-inch touch-screen.
As with other infotainment systems, the new NissanConnect technology supports smartphone application integration and Bluetooth connectivity.
Other models to come fitted with the NissanConnect system include the latest Note and Micra hatchbacks.
Renault’s sophisticated R-Link system features a large seven-inch touch-screen which can be programmed to suit the requirements of the driver.
In addition, the technology incorporates a TomTom navigation system, an intuitive voice-recognition system and an optional parking camera.
R-Link is simultaneously connected to your vehicle, smartphone and the cloud, linking the driver to the digital world and their community.
The Renault R-Link multimedia system is featured in models such as the Captur, Clio, Scenic and the all-electric ZOE.
Renault has also stated that the technology will be integrated into all of its future models.
Vauxhall’s IntelliLink infotainment system was introduced in the company’s customisable ADAM city car and caught the eye of many customers across the nation.
The Vauxhall IntelliLink system is controlled via a seven-inch touch-screen, allowing easy control of all audio, apps, mobile phone functionality and the displaying of images and movie files.
IntelliLink can sync with the driver’s smartphone and was designed to support specific Apple iOS and Android apps.
One of the key features of Vauxhall IntelliLink is the Siri Eyes Free function. Occupants with compatible iOS devices, such as an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, can use Apple’s voice-activated personal assistant while in the car.
This application allows drivers to perform a wide range of tasks without the need to take their eyes off the road or their hands off the steering wheel.
Siri Eyes Free allows users to make voice-activated, hands-free calls, listen to text messages, compose and send text messages and control their iTunes library, among others.
Vauxhall is expanding the use of IntelliLink across its range, with the new Astra GTC the first to receive the system this year.
Furthermore, the infotainment system is featured in the Chevrolet range (which is owned by Vauxhall’s parent company General Motors) and is called MyLink.