VW's rebooted MIB4 driver interface tested: does it work? | CAR Magazine

VW's rebooted MIB4 driver interface tested: does it work?

Published: 03 June 2024 Updated: 04 June 2024

► VW’s new MIB4 infotainment tested
► Launches now on ID.7, Golf 8.5 and more
► Now with backlit temperature controls!

Volkswagen is awfully sorry. No, really, it’s genuinely apologetic after the tirade of criticism of its MIB3 infotainment system, which launched with the Golf Mk8 and ID. 3. VW’s product manager for the Golf, Michael Blaul, called it ‘a painful experience’ to endure.

While VW cranked out a series of over-the-air updates for cars that ran MIB3 to help speed it up and remove bugs, software engineers quickly got going on an entirely new system – one that would address as many of the old one’s criticisms as possible.

Enter MIB4, the latest software from the wider VW Group that Volkswagen and Skoda are already putting to use. The updated Mk8.5 Golf, Tiguan, Passat and new ID. 7 from Volkswagen, as well as Skoda’s latest Superb and Kodiaq, are already up and running with the tech. Our first taste of it has been on the impressive ID. 7.

The climate controls are now backlit – a frankly baffling oversight on the previous user interface – and there’s now a fixed point at the base of the screen for frequently used climate controls. VW has also massively upgraded the processing power, reducing lag.

As well as having a customisable ‘home’ screen that shows you the information and settings most important to you, there’s also now a quick-access menu on the top that allows you to keep frequently used settings or menus within easy reach. You can customise that, too, allowing single-tap access to full-screen navigation, the car’s safety system settings, and toggle switches for things like start/stop activation or battery information.

The ID. 7’s specific version also includes huge customisation of the climate-control system’s airflow via its ‘smart’ vents, and features a Wellness application (pictured above), arriving first in the estate version, that links ventilation with lighting, sound and the seat’s massage function. How many drivers will try that more than once? Not many, we suspect.

In theory, much of this all sounds like progress. In practice, it’s a little murkier. What is commendable is the system’s speed – it really is much faster than even the latest version of MIB3, and the graphics are super crisp. Including those fixed areas at the top and bottom of the screen certainly reduces the number of menus.

But, on the downside, it can still be fiddly trying to tap those functions while driving.

VW MIB4 infotainment: how it works

Climate confusion
While the addition of fixed climate controls is useful, the usability unravels if you want to direct the airflow from the ‘smart’ air vents (pictured above) – again, it’s screen-based and massively fiddly and, therefore, best done when stationary. What was wrong with a little plastic adjuster?

…aaaaaand relax
The ID. 7 Tourer has a Wellness app to freshen you up, calm you down or let you nap while you’re charging. Climate-controlled seats can dry rain-drenched clothes.

Talking back
We’ve not tested this bit yet, but VW plans to include ChatGPT in its voice assistant (pictured in a Mk8.5 Golf) via a future over-the-air update. It has the potential to improve usability but, from our previous experiences, we’re not massively convinced.

VW MIB4 infotainment: does it work?

Sort of. It’s certainly more responsive than the old system, and some of the key criticisms have been addressed. But the fundamental problem is it’s still entirely screen-based.

By Jake Groves

CAR's deputy news editor, gamer, serial Lego-ist, lover of hot hatches