I had only a few complaints in regards to the 2021 Volkswagen Golf R in my first drive final week, however the execution of its fancy, new tech was the most important one. There are actually points, but it surely’s nuanced sufficient to warrant this separate evaluation the place I’ll go into better element about what this new infotainment and tech interface is sweet at and the place it falls brief.
VW calls this new inside the “digital inside,” and it does so for good purpose. The entire thing is digitized in a method that Volkswagens of the previous by no means had been. It brings into query the place the infotainment system begins and ends, as the times of a display screen being separate and unlinked with the assorted buttons and knobs on the sprint are over. And in VW’s case, the survival fee of buttons and knobs on the whole is low. New, budget-oriented automobiles just like the 2022 Taos nonetheless function VW’s previous inside philosophy, however that isn’t the case for its flagship merchandise just like the GTI, Golf R and ID.4. This evaluation solely applies to these latter three, because the next-generation methods present in these automobiles are so totally different from others (within the Tiguan, Passat or Atlas) that VW’s digital roots are hardly recognizable anymore. VW’s different fashions will finally get comparable methods, but it surely’ll require Volkswagen transitioning these fashions to the brand new digital structure that allows it within the ID.4 and new-generation Golf.
The ten-inch high-res touchscreen built-in right into a cowl that bends across the driver (within the GTI and Golf R) is that this infotainment system’s crown jewel. It’s a fast-responding touchscreen that’s simple to achieve and canted towards the motive force in a method that also makes it doable for the passenger to simply use it. Responsiveness and speediness is high notch. You may swipe and faucet across the display screen as if you’re utilizing a top quality pill, and it didn’t exhibit any lag. There are not any touchpads or scroll wheels to manage it with, so it’s a full contact expertise.
That contact expertise extends to the remainder of the inside, too, as VW determined that contact haptic controls are what’s in lately. Sadly, these controls are the place issues crumble. There is no such thing as a easy quantity knob. As a substitute, VW offers you a quantity slider built-in right into a slab of piano black plastic that juts out proper under the 10-inch display screen. Right here you possibly can faucet on the +/- buttons or slide your finger forwards and backwards to alter the quantity. This interface was a horrible concept when Lincoln and Cadillac tried to do the identical factor a number of years in the past and it is simply as annoying in a VW as we speak. Tapping again and again to crank the quantity by hook or by crook is tedious work, and the slider works generally, however different instances it struggles to learn swipes. After which there’s the location of mentioned contact controls. They’re proper the place I might like to relaxation/brace my hand to make use of the infotainment system. However try this, and also you’ll by chance jack the quantity up. Or! You’ll errantly modify the local weather temperature controls that flank the quantity slider and are additionally contact controls.
The answer? You both have to seek out the right spot to relaxation your palm in between the quantity and local weather controls, or just freehand the contact controls. Anyone that’s tried to work a touchscreen whereas touring down a bumpy highway (particularly in a automobile with a sport-tuned suspension) will know that stabbing away as your arm strikes up and down will typically result in errant choices. It’s effective should you’re stopped or on clean pavement, however this design will inevitably result in frustrations as an proprietor.
In excellent news, the “Uncover Professional” infotainment’s interface is easy to make use of. It’s like an previous iPhone, again once they had “dwelling” buttons. There’s a “dwelling” button on the far left of the display screen that can all the time carry you again to the principle array of apps from anyplace. You may scroll up and down by means of app icons or swipe throughout to seek out what we’ll name widgets. There are tiles for navigation, journey knowledge, present media and so forth that may be moved round and customised. And if customization is your factor, VW means that you can change the colours of the infotainment system, digital instrument panel and ambient lighting. It’s about as customizable as automobiles get in 2021 from this attitude.
That digital cluster is known as the Digital Cockpit Professional now, and it’s a ten.25-inch display screen in entrance of the motive force. A number of view modes can be found, and fashions just like the GTI and Golf R get particular efficiency views that show a very powerful data in an simply digestible format. There’s even a brand new steering wheel to manage that cluster. It options the identical contact haptic buttons as the new Arteon’s steering wheel does. Turning up the quantity or skipping to the following tune is much simpler on the wheel itself, as along with the contact controls, you possibly can simply press down on them like a conventional button, and it really works flawlessly. VW’s fancy, digital steering wheel is the perfect we’ve tried to date, and it even works higher than Mercedes’ new haptic contact wheel on the E-Class.
The one different buttons you’ll find yourself utilizing within the cabin are shortcuts for the infotainment system constructed into the sprint by the vents. Squished into their tiny space, you possibly can carry up menus right here for oft-used settings like the motive force help methods or local weather controls. Volkswagen went to such nice lengths to maintain the sprint freed from precise buttons that it even put the entrance and rear defroster buttons in with the headlight controls to the left of the steering wheel — simply do not forget that for the primary icy day along with your new GTI.
This cacophony of know-how is a step ahead for VW once you have a look at it from an aerial perspective. There are actually some particulars that want some work, however Volkswagen is effectively and really into the digital age now. You get the anticipated options of wi-fi Apple CarPlay and wi-fi Android Auto alongside the 2021-feeling person interface. I do know I’ll be nostalgic for VW’s earlier association of oh-so-German buttons and knobs, however there’s little question this flashy, new philosophy for infotainment is catapulting VW interiors into our tech-focused world with enthusiasm.