One aspect that is most evident when you take a close look at the new 2017 Hyundai i30, is the completely redesigned 8.0-inch touchscreen/infotainment system that sits proudly atop the dash. It’s a touchpoint - no pun intended - for the way the South Korean brand is approaching tech integration into all of its new vehicles.
Adrian Pere, Connectivity And Safety chief for Hyundai Motors Europe spoke to CarAdvice about the rapid development that automobile manufacturers need to make in regard to infotainment now that smartphone, tablet and computing technology moves so quickly in every other facet of life.
Integrating this technology into the vehicle itself is more important now than ever before, and it has led manufacturers toward software developers and computing solutions to get the best possible result.
So, does smartphone integration like Apple CarPlay/Android Auto make it easier or more difficult to create the best in-car infotainment experience?
“In my opinion it is even more complex because you need to make sure your connectivity experience is compatible with different standards,” Pere told CarAdvice.
“By that, I mean the different standards that people expect having interacted with iPhones, Android devices, iPads, whatever it might be.
“We are concentrating a lot to ensure the best possible connectivity and we are putting a lot of effort into the connectivity itself to get the best experience possible.”
Pere is also aware of feedback that consumers are impressed by the way the South Korean manufacturer integrates infotainment into its vehicles.
“It is good to know that our customers think our vehicles often provide better connectivity than some more expensive models,” he said. “We know the i30 is very successful in Australia and this has been our feedback from various markets around the world. It means our work is being done properly at the development level.”
Even something as simple as the phone connection (previously Bluetooth only, but now also direct connection with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto) can influence the way a buyer interacts with a vehicle’s infotainment system.
“That is the central idea of the marrying function,” Pere said. “The system should be a seamless extension of your smartphone, that allows you to access the best of the smartphone without using the phone physically.”
Even the positioning of the new 8.0-inch screen plays its part in this connection between driver and car.
“The centre of the dash is safer, more ergonomic, with better visibility,” Pere said. The 8.0-inch screen is a large screen, but the central idea is to simplify the experience for our customers.”
Apple in particular is noted for being difficult to deal with, given the company’s high expectations for factors like screen resolution, something that makes the process more challenging for manufacturers who are only just learning how to build and integrate tech hardware.
“This is always evolving, the smartphone link means we need higher resolution screens, with better graphics, and more capability,” Pere said.
“It is evolving very fast, perhaps faster than other parts of the car now. Smart phones improve and evolve very fast, every year really, so Hyundai connectivity has to evolve just as fast to keep up. That’s the case for factors like the screen resolution, and the speed of response to touch commands.”
Above: the current i30 on sale now in Australia
CarAdvice asked Pere whether the positioning of the screen generated heated debate between designers and engineers who might have wanted different things.
“So far as I know, we have been, both teams have been looking for the best ergonomic position for the screen,” he said.
“There’s always a discussion between design, engineering and manufacturing to get the best position that is actually possible and works the way it needs to.”
Pere went on to explain that the ‘three-zone’ control system we’ve seen evolve with Hyundai models over the past few years is integral to the design of the cabin. As such, the new i30 retains the screen at the top of the zones, with the air vents beneath and the HVAC controls below that. “
This positioning means you have three concise, and ergonomic zones to control the vehicle,” he said.
“I don’t know if the result is more European as some people have said today, but the result is a car that is easy to use, and a dashboard that looks attractive.”