This month in our Hands-On-Tech (HOT) reporting series, we put Korean manufacturer SsangYong's system to the test*. Taking you through the top-spec connectivity features offered by manufacturers in detail, this HOT report series looks to benchmark the connectivity functionality of each manufacturer based on various test criteria.

The glossy piano black surround envelopes the 9.2" display screen, giving an increased sense of luxury. The shortcut buttons of home, mode, navi and setup sit under the screen, alongside the volume dial - a diamond cut-style bezel knob - adding to the heightened sense of quality. The size of the screen is excellent, allowing adequate space to place buttons, see the navigation route more clearly and in the main, make more accurate selections while on the road. 

Designers have mostly kept the choices on the well-styled navy screen sparse and simple. That doesn't so much apply to the DAB screen, however. The left screen allows for preset channels, while the right offers other choices; one of which is a longer list of stations. It's busy. What's more, the list has been packed in tightly, making it preferable to select one station, then scanning through all with left and right arrows, rather than selecting directly from the list, which is difficult for sausage fingers while driving. 

Though SsangYong has integrated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, these mirroring apps seem to have been thrown in at the last minute. As a result, the CarPlay screen is not configured for the right-hand drive market and the Android system frequently crashes, resulting in the SsangYong's whole system rebooting. 

SsangYong has also configured a split homescreen, so the navigation shows on the left, the media choices and other shortcuts on the right. The code for this feature is not stable and multiple times one element would fail to load, or as in one instance, the navigation would duplicate and layer itself over the other before flickering and crashing. When it was working however, it was helpful and far less distracting to be able to toggle between each function digitally than reach for the physical switchgear. 

The audio system in the Rexton is pretty good. The standard package is Kenwood, offering a full sound, though as with other systems we've tested, there is just a straightforward self-levelling configuration and a visual graphic to determine where the sound should focus. There are 12 radio presets.

The climate control sits under the display screen and, as in other models, separates driver from passenger so these areas can be controlled individually. 

The switchgear for the ADAS and other driver controls can be found to the right of the steering wheel and the door and wing mirror adjustments can be found on the driver's door sill. 

Voice Control
There is no provision for voice controlling the proprietary system. Yet, the integration with CarPlay and Auto is frustrating. Though it works as you might expect, there is one exception. It is incredibly slow. While this could also be a symptom of spotty connectivity, it occurred in multiple places, often in areas where a strong data connection was noted. 

Networking and Telephony
The SsangYong has no networking provision beyond CarPlay and Auto integration. Though it has Bluetooth functionality for hands free calling, the telephony feature is by far the worst in the system. We tested all of our usual contacts to check for useability, but the clarity of the calls was less than satisfactory. All contacts commented on the inability to hear the call properly. Like voice control, hanging up the call was far slower than one would desire. In one example, we were making an international call and the inability to hang up caused concern over excessive roaming charges. 

As a result, we scored the telephony one out of three for clarity, where one is poor and three is completely clear. As there is no voice control provision, we were unable to score it against ease of use. Due to the issues with ending the calls and speed of response of the overall function, we marked it one out of three for useability, where one indicates severe difficulty in execution. 

The TomTom-supplied navigation system is incredibly simple, prompting comparisons with Google Maps. One button offers a selection of five options; from search for your destination, to recent history, to home—yet the system also offers a choice of previous destinations. Search offers predictive answers, making the search more efficient. The auto-split of postcodes also makes it very easy to set the navigation. Blue is used to indicate route. Route choices and arrival times are accurate, for the most point. At one point, with an accident on the motorway and no indication on the screen, there was a query as to whether real-time traffic updates have been integrated. SsangYong confirmed there is currently no Real Time Traffic Alerts but it is working with the factory for this to be available going forward. 

Points of interest were limited to fuel and parking but the simplicity of this increased its usability rating for which we scored it four out of five, where four indicates great presentation, minimal nesting with a fair naturally user experience (UX). Route accuracy also scored three out of three, where the system found the destination without issue and routed accurately with a reasonable ETA.

The Rexton's 360-degree and rear-view split screen camera configuration was incredibly impressive. Engineers seem to have utilised augmented reality technology in order to give a greater range of perspectives. For example, rather than just give a rear-camera view, there is also the option to view as though a friend had stepped out of the vehicle and was helping back you in. The bird's eye-view which makes up the other half of this split screen uses two thick yellow lines to ensure there is adequate clearance to avoid alloy damage too. We found trusting this camera technology very easy. 

The cruise control is not adaptive, and the automatic transmission isn't the smoothest we've experienced, by some distance. These weaknesses no doubt hurt fuel economy, which isn't anything to write home about.

Companion App and Telematics
SsangYong does not yet have a companion app for this system. 

The SsangYong is typically Korean. Multi-note melodies sing out upon arriving in the car and switching the vehicle off, giving the vehicle more life and character than any of its European or American-branded peers. However, despite appearances, the system isn't as sleek as it needs to be to score highly. SsangYong—and the Rexton model in particular—is very popular amongst drivers that tow. This is clear, since the focus has been put on the features that will best served this market. However, to win market share, the proprietary system needs more refinement and the CarPlay and Auto integration more attention-to-detail. 

*This article is an extract from a report that first appeared in our QUBE service. The QUBE article is accompanied by a comprehensive data sheet with our full evaluation of the SsangYong's connectivity and HMI. 

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