With the recent rise in popularity of electric cars, car infotainment systems are going through something of a revolution. Due to the power of lithium-ion batteries that power electric vehicles, car manufacturers have been able to take infotainment systems to the next level. Gone are the days of out-of-date CD players and clunky controls, most new electric cars are now controlled by high-tech HD touchscreens. Electric vehicles also benefit from regular software updates due to their connection to the internet. This allows every driver to enjoy the very latest innovations in infotainment functionality.
This begs the question, what is the best electric car infotainment system on the market right now? From the BMW iDrive to Honda CONNECT, Vanarama has ranked each infotainment system available in the UK by the following criteria:
· Accessibility: How long does it take to learn the system?
· Usability: How responsive is the system interface?
· Functionality: What does the system allow you to do?
Continue reading to find out what are the top five electric car infotainment systems on the market.
Featured Cars: Tesla Model X, Tesla Model S, Tesla Model Y
It will perhaps come as no surprise that it’s Tesla’s masterful infotainment system that takes first prize, with an overall score of 28/30. Recently compared to a ‘laptop on wheels’ by a popular motoring magazine, the infotainment system boasts a hugely impressive amount of processing power thanks to a 10-teraflop chip. That’s around the same as a PlayStation 5! It’s this unthinkable amount of processing power that enables Tesla’s infotainment system to carry out some of the most technically complicated tasks that any car can do with ease.
Tesla’s infotainment system is housed in a sizeable 15 to 17-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard, making it easy to access for both driver and passenger. Everything in the car is controlled through the touchscreen, with occupants being able to adjust the satellite navigation, Autopilot, enjoy web-browsing and even watch Netflix.
It wouldn’t be an Elon Musk creation without an element of craziness thrown in! One of the more humorous features allows the driver to create whoopee cushion noises to wind up other passengers – thanks Elon. The high-quality, razor-sharp screen rounds off the user experience, making Tesla’s infotainment system the gold standard that all other car companies need to beat.
2) BMW iDrive
Featured Electric Cars: BMW i3, BMW iX3, BMW i4
BMW’s iDrive infotainment system comes in a respectable second place on our list – only two points behind Tesla. BMW says that their iDrive system “creates a personal relationship and natural dialogue between the user and vehicle” – and we tend to agree! Released in 2021, the latest iteration dubbed iDrive 8 is the most advanced system yet.
Benefitting from silky smooth controls and a user-friendly layout, even the most technologically challenged driver would have no problem finding where the play button is. The software controls pretty much everything inside the car, from the air-conditioning to the seat ride height settings.
The all-new BMW iX electric features an impressive 14.9-inch curved infotainment screen as its centrepiece, and we’re hoping this becomes the standard on all BMW models. The increase in touchscreen real estate makes iDrive feel even more impressive, immersing the driver and passenger in the controls of the car. Perhaps the system’s best trick is being able to learn from your driving habits to enhance your driving experience. Machine learning monitors repetitive driving patterns to offer suggestions on how to use certain functions more effectively.
Featured Electric Cars: Audi e-tron GT, Audi Q4 e-tron, Audi e-tron Sportsback
Audi’s Multi Media Interface (MMI) controls the inner workings of their cars and has been around since launching at Frankfurt Motor Show in 2001. You’ll find the MMI located in the centre of the dashboard no matter which Audi you choose to opt for.
Unlike other modern infotainment systems, MMI doesn’t solely rely on a touchscreen for navigation. Some Audis also feature a touchpad and rotary wheel to help you get around. How long it will be until Audi completely ditches them in favour of the touchscreen is anyone’s guess – but we like it! The more expensive Audis even have a second touchscreen below the MMI to control heating and ventilation.
Cars in Audi’s electrified e-tron range that are equipped with MMI can be controlled in several different ways. Of course, drivers can use the internal touchscreen if that takes their fancy. However, the system also features an impressively accurate voice-control system which the driver can use to change a song or phone a friend without taking their hands off the steering wheel. Outside of the car, the myAudi app allows you to remotely enjoy all the infotainment gizmos that your car features.
Ford SYNC 4A
Featured Electric Cars: Ford Mustang Mach-E
Available on a brand-new 15.5-inch touchscreen, the Ford SYNC 4A infotainment system offers the convenience and ease of use of the first three versions, along with some technologically advanced new features. A Mustang Mach-E exclusive, the system offers an impressive list of voice commands which enables the driver to enjoy a unique conversational experience with the system. The infotainment system also takes advantage of cloud-based connectivity. This enables SYNC 4A to offer advanced route planning to find the optimum route for your journey. Unlike other infotainment systems, SYNC 4A has the ability to download software updates over-the-air. This avoids the faff of having to take the car into the dealership to be updated.
The main drawback of Ford SYNC 4A is the system’s user interface. Although it’s easy to work out where you need to go in the system to input commands, the touchscreen can be a little clumsy and aesthetically could benefit from an upgrade. However, if how it looks doesn’t bother you and you’re all about functionality, then the Ford SYNC 4A infotainment system offers real bang for your buck.
Featured Electric Cars: Mercedes-Benz EQC, Mercedes-Benz EQV, Mercedes-Benz EQA
The Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX, is the name of the car manufacturer’s intuitive and intelligent infotainment system. In most Mercedes-Benz cars, MBUX is spread across two high-definition touchscreens which sit side by side each other where you would normally find the dashboard. The system allows you to personalise your Mercedes-Benz experience to your unique taste and driving style. The ability to choose between seven distinct profiles means that you can benefit from pre-set custom settings ready for any occasion. Voice control allows you to adjust the ambient lighting, perfect for setting the mood for a winding drive through the countryside.
Another cool feature of the infotainment system is the augmented-reality navigation. Using a camera at the front of the vehicle, MBUX projects satellite navigation turn signals and other helpful aides in real-time onto one of the touchscreens. This helps to clearly recognise which junction to turn off at - no more guessing! In terms of usability, Mercedes-Benz recently removed the rotary wheel from newer cars meaning that the touchscreen can be awkward to use while cruising down the motorway.
Trying to work out which electric car is right for you? Head to our guide to electric car leasing.
Alternatively, if you own a business, find out the best electric cars for corporate leasing to impress your colleagues.