The Hector’s huge touchscreen is a touchy subject


July 5

Unless you had been asleep for a month, you’d know by now that the MG Hector has a massive Tesla style 10.4 inch touch screen and a shoddy ‘Internet Inside’ badging. It can do a multitude of things while being connected to the world of internet via an embedded sim card. You can greet the car, by saying “Hello MG” and it will respond to your commands. You can ask it to play the music, set the sat-nav or the temperature or open/close the driver side window or sunroof. It will even play videos off Gaana and other apps. You can also control some of the car’s functions via a mobile phone, locate the car or check its stats from any part of the world.

It is all fancy till the novelty wears off and you wonder about its everyday usability. It is not easy or safe to operate a touchscreen while driving. During our drive, we found the touchscreen was laggy and would occasionally freeze and that the voice recognition isn’t very good and it is much easier to operate everything with your hands like you would, in a normal car. The user interface isn’t very well thought out as you don’t have dedicated buttons for the AC controls or other important functions. So when you get a call and you have to reduce the fan speed to hear the other person better, you have to go into the menu within the touchscreen – that takes a while to respond – and then do it. Of the five buttons under the touchscreen, two are taken up by the demister (which you use very rarely), two are volume controls while the central button isn’t a knob and is only for switching the infotainment screen on/off. The volume control functions could have been easily integrated into the middle button if it was a knob, but no. And why is it circular in shape if it isn’t a knob and its only function is to turn on/off the infotainment screen?

Of course, all this internet connected features work only when you have proper network. So if you are on  a family trip to some hillstation, no amount of “Please” will get the British lady to get what you are looking for.

Then there is the question of safety when you have to take your eyes off the road to operate something. Some like Honda use touch screens for HVAC controls and that’s equally annoying. Hard buttons and knobs for everyday functions are essential and it’s about time car manufacturers realize this.

The Land Rover system springs to mind, where you have dedicated buttons and knobs for the essential functions and makes your job much easier while on the move. They even switch from one function to another depending on what menu you are on the screen. You can even operate them with wet hands or while wearing gloves. Someone put some thought into that. It is bloody brilliant. If you have to have touchscreens, this is the way to go.

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