In the second of six connected car user experience evaluations, we offer an expert evaluation of the infotainment and navigation system in the second-generation Porsche Panamera.
The new system, launched in late 2016, is a significant improvement when compared to the previous version. A 12.3-inch screen replaces the older 7-inch version and the interface has undergone a complete revision, addressing many of the issues raised in our 2014 Usability Benchmarking report.
The Porsche Communication Management system was intensively evaluated over a week using SBD’s unique testing methodology. Two experts conducted a combination of dynamic testing and static evaluations covering over 1,000 miles across Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the UK, capturing 2,000 data points with more than 50 hours of in-car testing. The full infotainment system was evaluated, comprising the head unit and touch screen, connected services, instrument cluster, central controller, smartphone integration solution and companion app.
+ Navigation accuracy
The navigation system is accurate and straightforward to use. Both the graphical display and the spoken instructions are clear, well presented and intuitive. This is most noticeable on motorways, where the junction view and countdown are highly accurate in relation to the car’s speed and position, inspiring driver confidence. Voice instructions and on-screen graphics are synchronized well with no noticeable lag or interruptions.
Google Maps has established itself as something of a benchmark due to its free availability, effective functionality and ability to operate on most smartphones. Comparing the two, it is encouraging to see the Panamera’s system working significantly better in some cases (particularly when dealing with complex junctions, timing and location accuracy).
+ Voice recognition
Voice recognition accuracy scoring: Porsche vs BMW
Voice recognition is effective with a good understanding of speech and a high success rate for resulting actions. A stand-out feature is the one-line entry, which allows voice search to be used in a similar manner to the text search on a smartphone or computer. The system recognizes different commands with a low degree of user prompting. Additional iterations may be required in the process if the command is not fully understood the first time but these mostly achieve a satisfactory result.
Based on the data collected when SBD tested the UK specification BMW 7 series in January 2017, only 59% of commands were carried out successfully, compared to 87% in the Porsche Panamera.
Implementation of Napster in the Panamera is disappointing. The graphical design and user interface are uninspiring and difficult to use (compared for example with the Tesla Model S) and it lacks an intelligent search functionality. Searches are unintuitive and compare poorly with competitor apps such as Spotify
- Steering wheel functionality
The steering wheel controls on the Panamera include volume buttons, however, there are no track skip buttons. These can be found on many new cars and in SBD’s opinion, are two of the most commonly required buttons on the steering wheel. This is viewed as a major negative due to these buttons being accepted as core equipment. The alternative solution, configuring the programmable button, does not provide an adequate alternative.
Overall the Panamera’s infotainment system is very effective with many improvements made over its predecessor. Despite some minor concerns, SBD believes that this system would be universally accepted by consumers. It is, however, lacking any clear “wow” factor.
This is the second of six user evaluations SBD is producing throughout 2017.
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