Automotive Product Experience – Seat Leon 2021

I’ve been a fan of the Seat brand for a very long time. I recently switched from a 2018 Seat Leon to a 2021, and it’s been a long time since I’ve been so disappointed. To be clear – the car is great, the smell of newness and all. I have the car less than 3 weeks / 2 thousand km. But here it’s not about the novelty effect, it’s about the functional solutions and the experience it evokes. Below are my subjective thoughts and frustrations about changing the car model to 3 years younger. I will try not to bore you.

Everything tactile

Everything – including the heating and volume is tactile and is supposed to create a wow effect. In my opinion, this is a very misguided idea. It’s certainly comfortable in sterile conditions, but not on the road. The most bizarre thing is that these toouchpads are totally unlit so during night driving it’s a game of hide and seek. Strongly dangerous. Interior lights are also touchpads. Fog lamps too. The whole idea of Touch only works great when stationary. On the road – very much not.

Operating system

Let’s not kid ourselves – the built-in e-sim and touch panel was supposed to be one of the assets of the new car. Unfortunately, this is not the case. The operating system is …. very slow. I feel like I’m playing with an android phone from a few years ago. As we are already at the system – keyboard with German layout (z/y). It is beautiful.

The built-in navigation is some kind of drama. It’s time to admit my mistake and go the way of Google/Apple Maps. Seriously. Plus the popups that I can’t get past… etc. etc.

Information Architecture

Lack of structure and hierachy. Example – the gear shift assistant about raising or reducing the gear informs not with the font size (as it was in the 2018 vintage), but with the direction of the arrow, which is a total filigree. Preventing questions – I know when to change gear, but if the assistant is based on a pixel arrow, it might as well not be there. Another example? We learn about horizontal navigation in the touchpad through arrows, vertical navigation through dots.

Qualitative errors

QR codes redirecting to a 404 page. Internet radio that doesn’t work, or predefined applications (such as Tidal). Someone might say that these are details and quality errors can happen to anyone. Probably yes, but they also translate into the overall perception of the product. That’s why I mention them.

Seat Connect application

Here it is very multi-level bad. It’s kind of a patchwork monstrosity. An example? When registering, I have to declare a courtesy return (in 2021? – really?). The various screens are extremely inconsistent (checkbox on the left or right – carpe diem!). There are many examples – but I was most amused by the fact that for localization: Poland, language: English – the application panicked and started working in Spanish 🙂 Aha – email communication is a strong shot in the occiput of decency.

Android Auto works on the cable

A little frustrating. There are a lot of patents on the web to get around this. I don’t understand why one of them can’t be factory installed. But ok, I would have swallowed it if someone had predicted where I should put the connected phone in such a way that it would not interfere with the gear shift. On a more interesting note, this android auto connection informs me of the phone limit. Bug to the feature?

Car key

The car key is the size of a caster. In the age of minimalism, this is a slight travesty. All the buttons have the same tactile design, so from a distance I am unable to open the car without taking the keys out of my pocket. It is also worth mentioning that the key fob mount is based on the emergency part of the key….

Offline also to be improved

Cupholders are the size of a small espresso – two medium coffees no longer fit. Oh – and forget about sliding the armrest in case you have large drinks. There is no such option. You have to choose. Coffee or driving comfort….

To sum up – it’s bad

As the direction in the product approach is maintained, my love for Seat will smoothly turn into Stockholm syndrome. I will no longer take another car without a test drive 🙂 Lest it be that I’m just complaining. Ergonomics of the steering wheel has improved strongly on the plus side. Bolding, navigation, bottom bevel – love it. On top of that, the side pockets in the doors finally accommodate liter drinks.

The pluses I will probably discover more. But it was the downsides (minor, or critical) that made me commit this post instead of enjoying the new car 🙂