To benchmark the user experience (UX) of car infotainment systems, GfK SirValUse (now GfK’s User Experience group) completed UX Quick-Checks of five automotive manufacturers’ systems. The manufacturers evaluated included Audi, BMW, Mercedes Benz, Volkswagen and Opel. In August 2012, we reported the first, but rather sobering, findings concerning the Audi system. Today, we focus on the Volkswagen infotainment system – the RNS 810 in the current Phaeton 3.0 TDI.
The impression of the RNS 810 is mixed regarding user experience. While the usability is good, it’s still behind competitors. Critical use cases, such as entering directions or operating the radio, can be accomplished without difficulties. The touchscreen and fast access buttons offer quick and safe access to relevant functions. The operating paths are short, the design of the screen is clear, and the buttons are of a sufficient size and clearly labeled.
The touchscreen position in the lower section of the center console is easily accessible, but operating the system while driving can be distracting for the driver. Switching the display and operating area from the central screen to the multifunction steering wheel and the combination-display can cause difficulties. For example, problems occur if the user wants to connect the RNS with a Bluetooth device. The central display indicates ‘Not connected’ in the Phone section, though no hint appears to inform the user to change the operating display to correct the problem. For that reason the user might not connect to a Bluetooth device without referencing the manual. Furthermore, the multifunction steering wheel and combination display is highly elaborate and therefore involves a steep learning curve.
The design of the screen is clear but not as up-to-date compared to other manufacturers’ systems. This is largely due to the display’s low resolution and contrast, though the icon design and “ABC” keyboard (vs. the expected “QWERTY” keyboard) is also antiquated.
Overall, Volkswagen’s RNS810 leaves an ambiguous impression. This is certainly due to the age of the system. Action is required especially concerning user flows in the connectivity area, as well as, a system design update. We look forward to evaluating the latest systems in other VW-models in the near future.