Going Analog in the Digital Age: The Skinny With Craig Cole

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Welcome to a new editorial segment called The Skinny, hosted by your favorite Craig Cole. This is a weekly feature where Craig sounds off (gives you the skinny, if you will) on the latest news from the auto industry or whatever else he has on his mind.

Digital instrumentation is a major trend in the automotive business today. More and more companies are replacing traditional analogue gauges with vibrant full-color screens, but I think we’re losing something in the process.

Sure, these displays have the advantage of being customizable, allowing drivers to change how information is presented, which is hugely valuable. They can also adapt to different driving modes, providing a unique look.

Audi has been at the forefront of this trend, with gorgeous, full-color screens popping up in vehicles like the TT sports car and Q7 crossover. However, the four-ring brand isn’t the only one doing this. Jaguar is on board, so is Cadillac, Tesla and numerous other automakers.

But for all of their flexibility and visual pizzazz, is something being lost in here? I think so because no matter how visually stunning, simple to decipher or informative digital displays become, I’ll always have a soft spot in my cholesterol-filled heart for traditional analog gauges.

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Old-school instruments are simple and honest. There’s not a hint of pretense to them; what you see is exactly what you get.

There’s a certain mechanicalness to them that’s totally lacking in their digital counterparts, no matter how many fake reflections or drop shadows programmers put in. With these there are physical parts that actually move around and do things; there’s stuff to see and touch.

Despite their limitations, analog is best. To find out why I feel this way, make sure to watch the video above. It’s super easy, just hit the play button above. C’mon, don’t let me down!

Check out other installments of The Skinny

  • smartacus

    i like how digital gauges can be switched around.
    Reminds me of how the analog gauges in James Bond’s Lotus Submarine can flip up to reveal submarine gauges

  • nauticalone

    I like the presenters style! And agree with his points.
    I also like how Jaguar is allowing customers to choose analogue or digital gauges even on their upper trims, like R-Sport F-Pace.

  • Jonny_Vancouver

    I like this new segment, and the vids keep getting better, gj! I totally agree with the above points. I think it’s important to keep things as simple as possible in cars in order to take away as little as possible from the driving experience.

    I also like the thought of analog gauges having more of a direct mechanical connection vs. sensor to cpu to digital display, it does seem to detract from, at the very least, feeling directly connected to your car.

    It’s such a nice contrast too, almost refreshing to have analog gauges, switches, and knobs in cars these days when everything else is going digital, and idk about anyone else, but I find myself drifting out of my lane while driving if I look at my phone for only a few seconds.

    Toyota Kikai ftw.