(Pocket-lint) - Connectivity is one of the biggest considerations when buying a car these days. We're all used to having everything on demand through our smartphones and the car makers - providers of the biggest gadget you're likely to buy - are constantly trying to make things as simple as possible.
For the past few years, Jaguar has been using the InControl system. It has appeared in a number of different guises, evolving to the Touch and Touch Pro systems, but there are also options for smartphone apps, dual view, a digital driver display and a whole lot more.
Here's a deep dive into Jaguar's in-car infotainment technology.
Called InControl, the system is divided into two distinct models: Touch and Touch Pro. Both operate through a centrally mounted display and as the name suggests, it relies on touchscreen navigation, but operation varies slightly based on what car you choose.
The standard Touch system delivers an 8-inch display flanked by physical buttons to the left and right for things like home, navigation, cameras, settings and so on. This is the standard option on the XE, XF and F-Pace.
The more advanced Touch Pro is an upgrade on the XE, XF and F-Pace, expanding to a 10.2-inch central display, losing the physical buttons and hosting a run of on-screen buttons across the bottom. It also comes with a digital driver display on these models so Touch Pro is very much the exciting option.
The price of that upgrade depends on the model you choose and the trim; for the Jaguar XE SE it's a £1600 step, for the XE Portfolio it's only a £1090 extra, but it's also paired with that driver display and an audio system upgrade, so you get a lot for your money.
The Touch Pro system is standard on the XJ, but doesn't expand to the 10.2-inches, it's currently limited to 8-inches in the central dash due to the interior design. Coming as standard also means that the XJ has a digital driver display as standard too, so is well-specced from the start.
There's a third system that's called InControl Touch Plus, which is limited to the Jaguar F-Type. As is often the case, sports cars sometimes need something a little different and here you have most of the options of the Touch Pro, but in an 8-inch system with flanking physical buttons.
One of the things that divides Touch from Touch Pro in most cases is the 12.3-inch digital display. This replaces the traditional dials with a full digital array, but is an upgrade option on all cars except the Jaguar XJ, where it comes as standard.
For the Jaguar XE, XF and F-Pace, the standard display gives you two analogue dials with a 5-inch full colour digital panel in the middle for your driving information and other details. Using the steering wheel controls you can change the information on this central 5-inch panel, as well as change a lot of the car's options without having to use the main display.
The real excitement, however, is reserved for the Touch Pro's Virtual Instrument Display, replacing those dials for a high-resolution 12.3-inch display, meaning a lot more customisation and a more modern and dynamic look - very much along the same lines as Audi's Virtual Cockpit.
In its default state it's divided into three dials, the centre giving you a speedo, with rev counter to the right and the third dial to the left displaying driving information. This left-hand dial can quickly be switched through to change various car control functions, the sort of thing you'd do on the central panel of the standard analogue drivers' display.
Switching to sports mode changes the view, switching the rev counter to the centre. That's something to watch out for, because if you're glancing down to check your speed, you can catch the numbers of the rev counter and think that's MPH, when it isn't…
As we said, to get this display you'll have to opt for the Touch Pro system and the price of that upgrade will depend on the model and trim level of the car you're buying - and the full digital driver's display is not an option on the F-Type, where you stick to the sporty dials only.
Main central display
Jaguar uses touch for all its central displays and as Jaguar is a premium car marque, even the lowest spec model (Jaguar XE SE) gets a fully-featured system, with a full run of upgrade options as we mentioned above. All the displays are fixed in place, there are no covers, flipping, retracting into the dash or anything else.
In operation the systems are very much the same, with the physical buttons of Touch providing quick access to the major sections of the system - home, music, navigation, telephone and some other features, like parking assistance or the car's cameras. When moving to Touch Pro these physical buttons are essentially replicated in a digital strip along the bottom of the display.
Hitting a big physical button to jump to the satnav section is perhaps easier than finding the exact icon across the bottom of the screen which is a lot smaller, but the system isn't really designed to be used like that, so you could say that it has a belt and braces approach and those buttons duplicate some of the controls unnecessarily.
In reality, as this is a touch-controlled system, the main approach is to touch the even bigger soft-button sections on the display. It uses a series of pages that you can scroll through, rather like a smartphone, with the display divided into four sections on the main home screen, giving you direct access to music, navigation, phone and climate controls.
Thereafter you can swipe to other sections of the system to access other things, like driving data, a browser, InControl apps, cameras and other bits spread over the next pages. In each case, tapping the big on-screen button then takes you into that section, whereafter you have obvious buttons to press.
You can dive into the eco section to find out how you might be wasting energy and how you could improve your driving style to be more efficient. For those looking for sporty data, for example on the Jaguar XE S, you can track your dynamics, see what G forces you pulled and so on.
There's a lot being offered, although typically it's those big main areas of music, telephone and navigation that you'll want for daily driving. The further options mean you can glance at how efficiently you've been driving, or change the dynamic setup of the car, but after a few changes and glances, you'll probably not dive back into those areas very often.
Each section is rich and graphical and we like the detail that you're given when customising the car's dynamics, such as shifting the steering to sport so it gets a little more weight and so on. (Again, this functionality depends on the age and model of your car.)
Smartphone connectivity: Android Auto and Apple CarPlay absent
The recent advent of Android Auto and Apple CarPlay has provided another avenue for smartphone users to integrate their phones with their cars. Jaguar doesn’t support either system, instead wanting to use its own system called InControl Apps.
The idea here is that you use Jaguar's app on your phone and when you connect to the car, that then provides the bridge to support a number of apps. It's a little more restricted than CarPlay or Android auto, but does mean that Jaguar stays in control of the apps you'll be able to use and the visual design of the system.
That also means that the apps you can use are dictated by what works with the Jaguar system, rather than through wider support from the Apple or Android community. Fortunately, Spotify is on the list and as one of the most popular music streaming services, that's important.
To use InControl Apps you'll have to connect your phone physically to the USB port and it works on both Android and iOS. You'll also have support for regular Bluetooth connections for calling, there's iPod compatibility as well as a 3.5mm aux input for connecting other hardware.
Controls for Bluetooth-connected devices also flow into the steering wheel buttons and voice controls, to make it easy to place calls, for example.
Touch and Touch Pro are supported by connectivity systems called Connect and Connect Pro, which will enhance the options available to you if you want to use your phone.
Connect Pro system takes things furthest, offering support for increased interaction to your car, giving remote access to a range of features. These include being able to remotely pre-condition the interior of your car, remote lock and unlock, as well as being able to plan routes on your phone and have those transferred to your car.
For those carrying passengers with lots of devices, you can also get a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot on some models - it comes as standard on the XF Prestige and F-Pace Prestige and above - and you'll have to insert your own SIM card. The advantage this offers over using a smartphone, is that your 4G connection is then routed through the car's antenna - it's much simpler for passengers too, as the driver won't have to turn on a hotspot on a phone.
Navigation is one of the big things we look for in cars. In the case of Jaguar, the omission of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto isn't so serious because you get navigation in some form on all models - whereas in some other marques, you can save yourself some cash and use Android Auto with Google Maps, rather than paying for satnav for example.
There are different grades, however, with the "enhanced" Pro navigation coming with Touch Pro. Of course, as we've said, in the majority of cars, once you jump to Touch Pro you also have the digital driver display, with the option of big 3D mapping there, which is a real advantage.
The satnav system is simple enough to use and we've found it fairly reliable in operation with turn-by-turn instructions and postcode entry, although it's the Touch Pro enhanced with Connect Pro that offers a little more, including real time traffic and the ability to arrive at your destination and continue on foot or public transport using the same app.
Arguably, in this case, something like Google Maps would serve you proud, offering this functions and avoiding the need to upgrade.
Sound, music and television
There are a range of sound systems available across the Jaguar models and these are in part tied to the whether you have the Touch or Touch Pro system. It's actually a nice move as it feels like you're getting a lot more for your money than elsewhere where you might be asked to fork out a lot of cash for an audio upgrade.
There are essentially three sound system options:
- Standard Jaguar audio: 6 speakers, 80W
- Meridian sound system: 11 speakers and subwoofer, 380W
- Meridian surround sound system: 17 speakers, 825W
All cars get the standard Jaguar audio, with options to upgrade to the 380W Meridian system with Touch. Then there's the option to move to Touch Pro with the 380W Meridian system which is perhaps the sweet spot for a lot of XE, XF, F-Pace buyers, as the 825W surround sound system with Touch Pro then makes quite a step up in price.
The Jaguar F-Type gets the 380W Meridian system as standard, offering the 825W as an option, so this sports car is already fairly enhanced.
The Jaguar XJ again has a slightly different arrangement, getting a 250W Jaguar sound system as standard, rather than the 80W standard version, again with options to move up to the Meridian systems.
Those Meridian sound system are fantastic and we've been really impressed by what we've heard from them.
For those wanting TV in the car, it's available in the XF, XJ and F-Pace but you'll have to have specified Touch Pro and you'll have to watch it through that front display when the car is standing still. There's also to option to have split screen at additional cost.
Jaguar's premium position means that, even at a core level, you have a lot of options. Jaguar bundles a lot up into the big packages, with the major decision being whether to jump in and take the Touch Pro option. This is likely to be the biggest decision for XE, XF or F-Pace buyers.
It's also the more appealing move, bringing that 12.3-inch digital driver display, wider 10-inch central display and a boost audio offering too, as well as opening the door for a lot more pro features.
Some might argue that the omission of Apple CarPlay or Android Auto sort of pushes you toward making this bigger jump, as those smartphone-native systems would provide a lot of functionality that could sit over Jaguar's standard Touch offering. As it is, InControl provides plenty of tech to get excited about.
We will update as more features become available across more cars.