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Car electronics control test: Usually stress and minutes of lost time

Especially in the area of ​​drives and electronic equipment, passenger cars have undergone enormous development in recent years. For more conservative motorists, their control can sometimes be difficult and even stressful. Together with our colleagues from the specialist magazine Flotila, we decided to test how user-friendly the control elements of assistance systems and mobile phone pairing are for the average driver in four different modern cars.

Car manufacturers approach the control of assistance systems in very different ways

| Photo: Diary/Radek Pečák

Such a situation can theoretically happen to every employee. “Look, it’s necessary to go there and there and solve the problem. You can’t do it over the phone, take the car. Yes, you actually have yours in the service, so take the new Mercedes (Mazda, Škoda, Fiat). Oh, and there’s those new lane-keeping and speed-warning assistance systems. You’d better turn them off, they’ll annoy you,” is the instruction from the boss, who immediately walks away. So the employee takes over the keys and gets into the car.

A colleague from the editorial office played the role of a test subject in our test. But not from the motoring section, but from the news. Vílém Janouš is an experienced driver who owns a rather old Ford Mondeo. He basically has no experience with modern cars, unless you also count the rather old editorial Škoda Octavia.

You can see the course of the test in our commented photo gallery.

For the test, we used four completely different cars, each of which came from a different car concern. Therefore, in their interior there are components with a different design, a different control method and often also from a different supplier. Moreover, they are at very different price levels.

You can find generally applicable instructions for connecting the phone to the car in the following video:

Source: Youtube

Specifically, they were Fiat 600e, Mazda 3, Mercedes-Benz EQE and Škoda Scala. So two of them had an electric drive, two hatchback bodies and two SUVs. However, this was not important for the purpose of our test this time.

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Colleague Vilém gradually got into all four cars and tested the controls. First he tried the simpler one – that is, connecting the phone to the car’s infotainment system via bluetooth.

It’s fine with the phone

This action, as it turned out, is not particularly difficult even for those unfamiliar with modern cars. All you have to do is turn on bluetooth on your phone, click on the right car that will appear in the list, and after a few more clicks, your phone contacts will appear on the car’s central display.

And in which car did Vilém do it the fastest? Mercedes is by far the smartest in this regard. It only took 25 seconds, the same task took 49 seconds in the Mazda and Skoda, and the slowest was the Fiat with a time of one minute and eleven seconds.

But now a more difficult task arose. All the cars in this test already had a speed warning system installed from the factory. It manifests itself in such a way that when, for example, after leaving the intersection you exceed the city speed limit by only one to two kilometers per hour, a fairly significant clinking sound starts to be heard. The system can be turned off, but it is ready for action again after each subsequent start of the car.

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I, like many other drivers, also turn off the active lane keeping system before most trips. I really don’t like someone else turning the wheel while I’m driving. So Vilém had the task of turning off both of these assistants.

In some places it is a relatively quick and intuitive operation, in others it takes more time and the pressing of several buttons.

Trouble with assistants

“I would never have thought that something like this would be so difficult for me,” said Vilém after the test. If we didn’t give him a light hint from time to time, it would take him many minutes to switch off.

The second time, of course, he would be able to do it within a few tens of seconds. The problem is that sometimes everything can be controlled with the buttons on the steering wheel (Skoda), sometimes by a combination of buttons and touching the icons on the display (Fiat), then you had to find a special button to the left of the steering wheel (Mazda) and finally the toy car icon in the bar that is still visible , but virtual buttons, under the main display in Mercedes.

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From the measured times, but also from Vilém’s feeling and our experience, it can be concluded that the most intuitive for a driver who has no experience with the given car is the control of switching off the assistants in the Škoda. You just need to remember that you need to look for the right icon on the right side of the steering wheel and then use the roller located next to it to scroll to the name of the desired system and then deactivate it with one press.

It is similarly easy in Mercedes. There, you just need to press the little car under the display, a list of assistants will appear (in addition, with sufficiently large icons) and then you can just click them off.

In both of these cars, Vilém was able to cope with the task in less than two minutes and with minimal help. In Mazda and Fiat, he struggled with it for about a minute longer. In addition, for example in Fiat (and likewise in other new models of the Stellantis concern) you must always click twice when switching off the assistants. The first time to select and the second time to confirm that you really want to do so.

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