Take your regular run-of-the-mill uber-hot-hatch and fit it out with an experimental interior technology package and you have the Volkswagen Golf R Touch. At the 2015 CES, we got our first taste of what Volkswagen is working on.
From the outside, were it not for the car’s grey-on-red body work, there’s no real way to distinguish the Golf R Touch from its showroom brethren. On the inside, though, there’s a large 12.8-inch touchscreen in the upper portion of central control stack.
Boasting a resolution of 2560×1700, graphics are smooth, bright and detailed. The capacitive screen reacts as quickly as a high-end commercially available tablet, although the glossy screen gums up with fingerprints quicker than the car hits 100km/h. The fingerprints were practically invisible from the driver’s seat, but from every other seat the screen looks as dirty as a city park after New Year's Eve.
A multi-touch capacitive slider bar sits right below the main screen. Depending on how many fingers you use, the slider can adjust everything from volume to interior lighting colour.
Underneath this is an 8.0-inch touchscreen that’s been designated to drive the car’s climate control and audio systems. Like many portable GPS units, it features a matt resistive touchscreen that not only stays fingerprint free, but also requires a firm push to operate.
This screen has been designed to be operated without the driver needing to looking away from the road. Drag your finger across the screen and every time you hit an on-screen button, the unit’s haptic feedback system will pulse the screen.
So, if you know that a certain function is second-from-the-left, you can activate it by touch alone. We found the intensity of the haptic feedback mechanism to be a little too dull for our liking, but the Volkswagen representative next to us insisted that with a little familiarisation it would feel natural.
A gesture sensor mounted in the ceiling, just ahead of the sunroof, can recognise deliberate hand waving moves above the centre tunnel. Some gestures, such as those to operate the sunroof or flick through tracks and stations seem useful, but others, like those that duplicate the nearby capacitive slide bar, seem rather redundant.
Most of the car’s traditional physical controls, such as the window switches, steering wheel buttons and electric seat adjusters, have been replaced with touch sensitive or gesture controlled elements.
It's important to note that the technology we saw in the Golf R is experimental and currently under development, so may not end up in production or could look quite different if it does.