New Honda Civic is like Windows Vista...

I recently traded in my pre-2007 Honda Civic Sport in for a new shape (Diesel) Type S... I didn't really want to because I loved the old Sport, even though it wasn't Type R(my preferred choice but money wouldn't stretch that far), the handling was great and I'd just finished paying it off. However - with rising fuel prices and the amount of mileage I'm currently doing I felt it was probably the best option to trade in to a diesel model.

The first time I got in the new one for a cheeky test-drive I couldn't help being a little bit scared by the dashboard. It looks really nice and all - something like a cross between the starship enterprise controls and a Fisher Price toy - but it seem REALLY complicated. The rev counter has a blue glow around it and the speedo is a digital readout rather than a dial. All the other knobs and buttons, although pleasing to twiddle and poke, are spread out in a seeming random fashion all over the place. I couldn't help looking under the steering wheel in case Honda had chosen to secret some vitally important button or switch there... like the headlights switch.

For example: in my old Civic the air con / heating interface was made up of three matching dials. One for temperature, one for fan speed and one to select which orifices the air spewed from. Simple. In the new version the same interface is made up of three or four seperate clusters, each laid out differently with almost no switch following the same theme as any other. It doesn't seem to do anything differently from the old car - just be mindbendingly difficult to use. I still haven't managed to memorise the layout and have to resort to glancing over and stabbing at things with my finger until I hit the right button. Not good when you're doing 70 on the M4 and fancy warmer feet.

As I drive along, wondering if there is a course I can go on to help me learn this new layout, I can't help but draw parallels between my new car and Windows Vista. Both seem to have been 'improved' to look prettier but not actually do anything better, or easier than the old version. The handling and the brakes on my new car are slightly worse than the old model just as the stability and usability are slightly worse on Windows Vista compared to XP.  At least my new car goes faster than the old one where as Vista certainly doesn't.

Lets hope the new Civic doesn't crash as much...