Car Advice

Infotainment: Jaguar InControl Touch Pro review

The new Jaguar F-Pace runs Jaguar’s hyped InControl Touch Pro infotainment unit and so to does the upgraded XE, so, is it any good?

IN-CAR INFOTAINMENT AND communication systems are in a constant state of flux. And no sooner does one car maker reveal its latest tablet-esque system than another has released its system that’s either bigger or faster.

But it wasn’t so long ago that we never needed our infotainment systems to do much more than change the radio station from either AM to FM, or use a safe-cracker’s touch to finely tune a radio station.

And then along came sat-nav units and map book publishers began going broke. And now, the touchscreen units we have in even the cheapest of cars are able to connect with you phone and while all will stream the music on it, many, depending on the connectivity, will even be able to display the maps and more from your phone, read out text messages and even allow you to dictate a response.

So, in this brave new world has Jaguar been able to produce a better infotainment and communication system? Well, even without turning the car on you’d have to say, yes. And anyone who owns an older model Jaguar or Land Rover will tell you just how clumsy the old units were.

If you’re an Apple nut like me then, right off the bat, Jaguar’s InControl Touch Pro system is a little frustrating. And that’s because it doesn’t offer either Apple Car Play or, for those with an Android phone, Android Auto. Grrr. Yes, there are InControl app can be downloaded from your favourite app store, and this allows access to your contacts, calendar and music – beyond that, via companion apps you can sync map route details with your phone. And, if you’re going to buy a Jaguar that runs this system then it makes sense to download and use the app.

So, let’s take a look at the numbers. The InControl Touch Pro system offers a 10.2-inch tablet style touchscreen (the standard unit is 8-inches), it has a quad-core processor and a 60GB solid state drive. Just like your smartphone it offers pinch and swipe gestures for sat-nav functionality. And the system can act as a Wi-Fi hotspot for up to eight devices and a crystal clear 825W Meridian Digital Surround Sound System.

Unlike some competitors which offers control units down by gear levers, as well as capacitive functionality, the InControl Touchscreen Pro system only works via touch, or the steering controls. But it’s much quicker to simply reach across than try and scroll via the steering controls. Whether some sort of external controller would mean you’re eyes are on the road more when using the system is debatable, but we have heard that argument being made.

Like all things you can’t just slip behind the wheel and tap away at the screen and expect to know all of the ins and outs and even after a week with the Jaguar XE I’m positive I still didn’t plumb the absolute depths or total capabilities of the system. And I didn’t download the InControl app, although I should have.

First impressions, though, are that the system is clean and clear with the fonts the right size to be read and understood quickly. The touch functionality is good in that you have to actually touch the screen with a reasonable amount of pressure for it to respond rather than just brushing a finger across the surface of the thing and having it react and head off in a direction you didn’t want it to go in. The menu is pretty easy to understand and relatively straightforward with all of the shortcut buttons across the bottom of the screen. And one of the things I really like, and the Jaguar system isn’t alone in this, is that the home screen can be customised to show the functions you most use, meaning you don’t have to scroll through screens to find them.

Connecting your phone either via Bluetooth or USB cable is easy but, unlike, say, with Apple Car Play connectivity, if you don’t have the InControl app on your phone you’ll need to manually input your travel destination for it to show up on the sat-nav. As advanced as these systems are, especially, when connected to the internet, it’s a shame there’s no workaround, but then Apple and Google want car makers to use their systems specifically rather than creating a way for an Apple or Android device to sync completely with, say, Jaguar’s connectivity technology, but I digress.

According to Jaguar, the system’s sat-nav can keep navigating you even when the GPS signal is lost, which is cool but probably won’t get much use given unless you’re in an underground carpark or a lead-lined garage you’re unlikely to lose the GPS signal for so long that you’ll end up getting lost. Supposedly the system uses dead-reckoning functionality, which is where you use a previously determined location to calculate your current position. The system will also tell you if you’ve got enough fuel in the tank to complete the planned journey with petrol stations highlighted along your route if you don’t have enough fuel; if you want to add one as a waypoint, which won’t mess up your destination route, you simply tap the petrol station you want to deviate to.

And, as long as your car is connected to the internet, the Commute Mode will learn your daily drive and use both real-time data and historical information to suggest alternative routes if there’s congestion. And approach mode will show, when you’re 200 metres from your destination, a 360-degree street-level view of your destination in a smaller screen alongside the main navigation display. Indeed, that’s one of the cool elements of the InControl Touch Pro system is that it can display in picture screens that allow you to access other functions, like music, without losing, say, your navigation screen.

The Screens

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Turn the car on and, if it’s fitted with InControl Touch Pro, this is what you’ll see. It’s a 10.2-inch touchscreen. You can see that there are three screens that you can customise to hold the various oft-used functions you require. The screen is fast to use and it’s easy to shuffle the pages around into the space you want, and the Home shortcut button means you can always start over if you get lost.

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This screen appears when you click on the shortcut that looks like two cogs. That will then allow you to access and customise key settings, from adjusting the audio balance to either the front or the back and the treble and bass levels to much more. It’s easy to use and I found it worked well.

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One of my big things is a reversing camera and this one is excellent. The line markings show up as you start to move. At night, or in low light, the picture is excellent.

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Because I know how to park a car, I didn’t need to let the car do it for me, but it’s nice to know it can if you need it. You simply press the P (with an arrow) button in the menu and then you can choose from these three scenarios.

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Climate control is controlled via actual dials beneath the touch screen, but it terms of directing air flow, you can do that via the touchscreen.

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Music is easily accessed when you connect your phone either via Bluetooth or USB cable. Pressing the Find button allows you to search by Album or Artist or via a Playlist. See below.

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This is the final page in the home screen.

Summary

Despite a few shortcomings for me, like no native connectivity for my iPhone, Jaguar’s InControl Touch Pro system is clever, simple to use and pretty powerful when it comes to its ability once synced with your phone via the InControl app.

I liked how quickly the all of the menus worked and responded, how easy it was to go back one page if you went the wrong way, and how quickly I managed to work out the key functionality. To get to grips with everything it can do, however, you’d need more than a week.

 


Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober