Japanese firm reckons new tech is "difficult to operate intuitively" for functions such as air conditioning, moving against growing industry norm

Honda has done what no other car maker is doing, and returned to analogue controls for some functions on the new Honda Jazz.

While most manufacturers are moving to touchscreen controls, identifying smartphone use as their inspiration - most recently seen in Audi’s latest A3 - Honda has decided to reintroduce heating and air conditioning controls via a dial rather than touchscreen, as in the previous-generation Jazz.

Jazz project leader Takeki Tanaka explained: “The reason is quite simple - we wanted to minimise driver disruption for operation, in particular, for the heater and air conditioning.

“We changed it from touchscreen to dial operation, as we received customer feedback that it was difficult to operate intuitively. You had to look at the screen to change the heater seating, therefore, we changed it so one can operate it without looking, giving more confidence while driving.”

More and more manufacturers are moving to touchscreen-only controls. The new Audi A3’s electronics boss Melanie Limmer told Autocar recently its decision to remove some physical buttons was made as “more and more people are getting into touch functions with smartphones” and added that the new system is as user-friendly as the previous one.

While Honda’s decision to return to physical controls will be popular with some - including, no doubt, its ageing owner base in the UK - the predicted move towards more voice-controlled actions in cars could eliminate the debate around touchscreens versus analogue controls in the future.

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44

30 March 2020

...but I do hate the 'all touchscreen' interfaces that many cars currently use. Way too distracting and fiddly to use. Especially for such commonly used actions as turning the heating up or down - you really can't beat a physical, rotary dial for that. And no - voice control is even worse. Having to say "Hey BMW, turn the heating up. A little more please. Blah blah blah..." is just plain daft in my opinion.

30 March 2020

Wish more manufacturers did the same. A car isn't a mobile phone, i'm not going to stop on the side of a motorway because i want to turn on the AC but the screen is dirty, it's not like you can just use your sleeve to wipe it while you're driving. 

And what happens when the screen fails/malfunctions? Because they do, and eventually, all of them will.

30 March 2020

Voice control is no panacea and does not bridge the gap for essential functions - it will still take 5 seconds or more to speak your instructions and wait for the temperature to be adjusted. Melanie's answer was borderline idiotic.

30 March 2020

The correct, safe decision.

30 March 2020
Common sense has prevailed, though why they needed feedback and couldn't come to this conclusion on their own I don't know, surely the engineers trialling touch screen interfaces can see it is more of a distraction than twiddling a dial.

30 March 2020
Well done Honda.
There is one major reason most car makers are aiming to put as much functionality as possible on to touch screens and that is cost. Manufacturers know full well that physical buttons are easier and safer to use on the move but they cost money so that's that.

30 March 2020
Although this probably has more to do with the demographic of Jazz customers, it's a step in the right direction.
Ford has the balance right with it's Sync3, touchscreen for settings, nav and radio, dials and buttons for the rest. And the facelift Audi Q5 looks like it'll retain knobs and buttons for heater controls too.

30 March 2020
Its a scam by the makers, you would think touch controls were an advance according to them. The reality is that with most hardware under bus control its far cheaper just to write a bit of code for the touch screen to send bus commands than building a physical control knob. Saving the makers money.. anyone notice cars getting cheaper? Me neither, its just more profit over safety. Like spare wheels sneaked in under the eco excuse (less weight on board). Nope a 10 quid chinese compressor and a tin of gunk is cheaper..to the maker.

30 March 2020
Good move Honda. I still have no idea how to operate most of the functions on my BMW 330e two years after getting the car ,and as pointed out there is a real safety issue here for those of us not born with an i-phone glued to our face.

30 March 2020

I'm fed up of being distracted looking for something on a screen rather than feeling where it is without needing to take my eyes off the road. I'm also more likely to achieve my goal with a dial or switch rather than adjust something else in error whilst bumping up and down on our very bad roads.

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