I bought a new car — a painful user experience

I have a 16 years’ old car that my dad gave me when I went to university eleven years ago. It still works fine, but it starts to require more repairs more often, and it’s actually getting quite expensive to keep it, not to mention that it’s polluting a lot, so it was time to look for a new car with a better experience. Sounds simple, right?

Well… actually it was a bad experience overall to look for a new car. And I am including here the whole journey, from looking over the internet, configuring a new car, going to the dealership, and actually paying for the car, both the online and offline experience because UX is not only about applications and online, right?

Cars got very complicated and smart nowadays, they look more like gadgets, and less like cars. They include a lot of technology, you can watch a movie on those huge screens, you can just lay down and watch the car drive itself (within its limits), or you can actually play games by using an HDMI connection, how crazy is that! And because cars got so complicated, it’s difficult to decide and understand what car includes what tech, and here things get complicated because websites make a terrible job guiding and informing you, and the salesman from the dealership is also confused and doesn’t help you that much.

But let me tell you some of the pain points I encountered.

Options not available in your country

I had a relatively small budget, and while I was looking for different car manufacturers, I had a crush for Hyundai Elantra. It was so beautiful, I loved both the interior and exterior, and while I was started to research about it, both the price and the gadgets that were included in that price were exactly what I needed.

It featured a lot of security options, like maintaining the lane, checking for cars in the blindspot, emergency braking if there was an imminent crash, it was just full of technology. Not to mention two beautiful 10.25″ screens, one for the cockpit, and another one for the infotainment system. It looked like a no-brainer, it was the perfect car for me, too good to be true… and it actually was.

I anxiously waited for the next morning to come to call the dealership and asked for more information. First bad news? The 10.25″ infotainment screen is not available in my country, even if I choose the most expensive version of the car, and some of those security options were also not available.

And I asked the salesman, why do you show them on the official website then?! You are basically lying to me, I was so happy about what the car included, and now I am very disappointed. He had no answer to my questions, of course. It was such a bad experience for me. They are showing a lot of technology and a lot of features, but actually, not all of them are available to be bought, even if you would want to pay for it, it is simply not available in all the countries.

Incomplete and confusing specifications

After the bad experience with Hyundai, I finally focused my interest on the new Volkswagen Golf 8. I know there are a lot of things to say about the Volkswagen emissions scandal (Dieselgate), or about the exterior design, a lot of people hate it for some reason, but after researching a bit, Golf 8 was a very good option for me.

I used the configurator to build a car, but there were a lot of things that weren’t explained, as an example, there are four types of infotainment systems, Radio Composition, Ready 2 Discover, Discovery Media, and Discovery Pro, but little details about them, how they are different, and which one fits best my needs.

I had to search on forums, and guess what, a lot of people were confused, it was so crazy to think that a manufacturer like Volkswagen doesn’t provide you a good amount of information about what they have to offer. It’s not like you buy something for 3$, you buy something that costs a lot, and you want to make sure that everything corresponds to your expectations and needs.

Another example is the Travel Assist option. Let’s check out how Volkswagen describes it:

The new Travel Assist feature in the Golf enables assisted driving up to 210 km/h. In this process, the system relies on systems including ACC Adaptive Cruise Control (longitudinal guidance) and Lane Assist lane keeping system (latitudinal guidance). Travel Assist is activated using the multifunction steering wheel.

So Travel Assist is using the Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane assist. I already included these two options, will Travel Assist be included automatically? What does Travel Assist do differently? Forums were full of questions, nobody understood exactly how Travel Assist works.

I asked the salesperson from the dealership. The answer? It scans the road signs and adapts the speed accordingly. But this was partially true. After researching a lot on this one, I found out that Travel Assist keeps automatically the center of the lane using the Lane Assist, while Lane Assist without the Travel Assist just warns you if you exit the lane and corrects the steering wheel, but doesn’t keep the car centered on the lane, and the Adaptive Cruise Control keeps a safe distance from the car in the front while adapting the speed by scanning the road signs. Complicated, right?!

I found this out by searching on forums and digging for information by asking VW owners that had this option included on their car. VW failed to inform me and I was tired of searching and asking. I just wanted a simple description of how a thing works. Why VW failed to do this? Can you feel my pain?

Options available only at the dealership

I used to configure a Golf 8, and then went the second day to the dealership to get an offer. As we were looking at my configured card, the salesperson told me that they have some bundles in the system that include various options at a better price.

I was like what (don’t get me wrong, I was happy)?! But why aren’t they included in the configurator? It wasn’t about that specific dealership, because those packs were available across the country at all the dealerships, but they simply weren’t included in the official configurator.

Funny thing is that on a forum I found out that that particular bundle was in the official configurator at some point, but Volkswagen decided to remove it for some reason and make it available only in the internal system provided to dealerships.

Why Volkswagen, why? 🙂


I finally ordered my new car, unfortunately, I have to wait four more months for it to come, can’t wait! But from a UX Designer perspective, I see a lot of opportunities in improving the journey. There are a lot of roadblocks, uncertainties, unknowns, and I, as a customer, felt angry, disappointed, confused, and lost. I had to research a lot on my behalf since nobody was able to help me, it was tiring.

There are a lot of opportunities to improve the experience of buying a new car.

Article originally published on: https://researchloop.net/2021/02/27/i-bought-a-new-car-a-painful-user-experience/

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