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Choosing between infotainment systems? We asked an expert what to look for

From cars that heat up before you leave the house to back seat ‘cinemas’.

13980657789_e6ac5d4eb2_o Source: Flickr/Kārlis Dambrāns

FINDING THE RIGHT car for your lifestyle and budget can be a tricky process. We want to help streamline the search. As part of our Insights series, every week we’ll take a different car-buying question to the experts at the heart of the motor industry.

This week, we’re talking infotainment systems. In recent years, phone connectivity, real-time sat-nav and a little TLC to help with your parking have grown exponentially. But with so many on the market, how do you select one that’s right for you?

We asked Michael Grant, owner at Michael Grant Renault in Sandymount, Dublin 4 to offer some advice. Here are seven things to consider when choosing your infotainment system, right from the dealer’s mouth…

1. Expect hands-free navigation

Phone connectivity is essential – you need to be able to access your address book and decide whether you can answer or not without having to navigate a menu on a screen or phone while driving.

Look for a car where you can take and make calls safely with both hands on the steering wheel at all times, so things like hands-free scrolling controlled from behind the steering wheel would be ideal.

2. Wave goodbye to repeatedly changing the station

andras-vas-466733 Source: Unsplash

Systems like the R-Link will connect fifty apps so that you can use them in the car. People are now expecting that if they plug in their iPhone or iPad that they have everything there.

Access to the music you have on your phone – once you synchronise it with the car – is now standard for some brands, so you should definitely look for this in any car you’re looking to buy.

3. Forget the concept of keys as you know them

You should look for things like a hands-free key card. This means that if you are coming with the shopping and you have the key in your handbag, once you come to the door, you can just press the button and as long the keycard is in your bag, it will open.

4. Access maps loaded with real-time information

axel-antas-bergkvist-312152 Source: Unsplash

One of the things that customers tend to find the most useful is the real-time traffic feature of modern sat-navs – Google will be able to tell you if there’s a breakdown in the city, and then give the best available route.

Is it better to take the M50 or go through the city, for example? It’s crucial to know about timings, best routes and to be alerted of breakdowns or accidents before you come near them.

5. Help in your struggles with parking

The newest development in parking is auto-assist – say for example there’s a tight space, I can line it up and press the auto-mode button and it will do all the steering for you. It’s really handy for car parks – you just take your hands off the steering wheel and control the brake and the engine.

There are also parking cameras that light up at night if it’s pitch dark. I think this is a really important thing for people – between the camera, the 360-degree sensors that monitor front, back and sides, and the auto-assist that will actually park the car.

6. Say goodbye to cold steering wheels

zach-meaney-249436 Source: Unsplash

You can now get key systems in electric cars that heat up the car in the morning from inside the house, so the car will be defrosted and ready to go. This technology is just built into your key card so you can press a button on that and it gets the car ready, all from the kitchen, if you wish.

7. Create a cinema for the kids

The newest thing in kids’ entertainment is that on the back two seats of certain models you can ‘click in’ iPads, so that if you have two or three kids, they can watch a film in the back. They’re just dropped into the rear of the headrests like TV screens.

More: 5 things we can expect in 181 and 182, according to a motor dealer

More Insights: Choosing the right SUV: 6 questions that’ll help you make your mind up

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