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By Charl Bosch

Motoring Journalist

Knobs and buttons preferred over touchscreen tech at Honda

"We wanted to minimise driver disruption for operation, in particular, for the heater and air conditioning".

In a move similar to Mazda, Honda has indicated that it is relying less on touchscreen technology for some in-car functions due to the apparent ease of traditional analogue switchgear.

The unexpected announcement comes after its Japanese rival’s North American Lead Engineer for Human Machine Interface and Infotainment, Matthew Valbuena, told Motor Authority in January last year that research has shown that operating the systems could result in a driver becoming distracted as they would have to take their eyes off of the road ahead.

“When a driver would reach towards a touchscreen interface in any vehicle, they would unintentionally apply torque to the steering wheel, and the vehicle would drift out of its lane position. And of course with a touchscreen you have to be looking at the screen while you’re touching…so for that reason we were comfortable removing the touch-screen functionality,” Valbuena said.

In an interview with Britain’s Autocar, Honda’s Project Leader for the new Jazz, Takeki Tanaka, remarked that the chances of a driver being distracted come across as the main reason why it was decided to equip the newcomer with a traditional dial and button setup for the heating and ventilation system rather than the touchpad-like display used in the previous Jazz and in the current HR-V.

“The reason is quite simple – we wanted to minimise driver disruption for operation, in particular, for the heater and air conditioning. We changed it from touchscreen to dial operation, as we received customer feedback that it was difficult to operate intuitively. You had to look at the screen to change the heater seating, therefore, we changed it so one can operate it without looking, giving more confidence while driving,” he said.

Unlike the HVAC display, the Jazz comes with a touchscreen infotainment system on some models, but it will be interesting see whether this will be dropped in favour of a rotary dial system similar to not only Mazda’s MZD Connect, but also BMW’s iDrive and Audi’s MMI in the coming years.

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