Which is why Ferrari has been busy crafting just such an item as a retrofit for its cars. Even six years ago, head units were in a completely different time zone. I'm looking at a Ferrari F430 from 2008, and the original Ferrari-branded Becker head looks pretty anachronistic with its tiny LCD text-only screen. Back then, Bluetooth was an optional extra, and only paired up with a handful of (now obsolete) phones. The optional sat-nav system of the time was ultra basic with tiny arrows to guide you, and the audio system consisted of a radio and a CD - no USB slot, no Aux input.
"Connection is very important for our customers," says Russell Simpson, Ferrari's UK Head of Aftersales. "This is an elegant solution to the problem of the looming FM switch-off, and provides lots of features in one unit."
Ferrari has partnered up with Clarion to create the new unit, as it has been impressed with Clarion's record for reliability and quality. The unit has been tailor made for the F430 (and because they share the same dashboard hard points, the 360 and F355 too). It integrates with the whole vehicle, linking up seamlessly into its wiring loom.
As you'd expect, the new unit sits perfectly in the existing slot, with a factory-matched surround. Press the 'open' button and the new unit slides out like a horizontal toaster before swivelling up to the vertical, its six-inch display lighting up as it goes. The Ferrari logo on the frame is matched by prancing horse wallpaper, confirming that this is very much an official item. The first (and pretty much only) downside to the unit is immediately apparent: its position partially masks the middle one of three air conditioning outlets in the centre dash, which is a shame but unavoidable. However, you do have the facility to alter the screen angle using a 'Tilt' button.
Let's start off by pressing the DAB icon and tuning in. On this prototype, there's a remote control unit to change stations, but this will be changed to a touch system as of May. The list of DAB stations available in the Wiltshire countryside is around 40 on my count, compared to 10 or so FM stations. The only slight downside to DAB is that it requires a separate antenna, a rather ugly sticky thing plonked in the top corner of the windscreen.
So to the sat-nav, which is based on Nav & Go software. You can programme in destinations by postcode (full six character), points of interest, latitude and longitude and good old street addresses. You can choose routes by fastest, shortest, avoiding motorways and so on, plus there is TMC live traffic info and rerouting. A full EU map is included, with updating online via a micro SD card (subscription £45 a year). On my two hour drive, the system never once had a glitch, and was extremely easy and intuitive to use, as any Nav & Go user will attest to.
A big plus to the ICE system is a reversing camera. Engaging reverse gear opens the unit automatically and you get a full colour view of what's behind you, plus an overlaid grid pattern to help you manoeuvre. The lens is very cleverly and unobtrusively located in one of the rear number plate light apertures.
Oh, one more thing - the system is capable of playing DVDs, so you can watch your favourite flick (but only when the handbrake is engaged). And you can even tick a box to order an optional DVB-T TV tuner system.
As for the head unit, any single-DIN system in 355s, 360s and 430s is upgradable. Currently Ferrari is also developing kits for the 575, 599 and 612, which need a slightly different design because of the more acute angle of their dashboards. The cost of the unit for an F430 is a very un-Ferrari-like £1,755 including VAT (plus around £300 to fit at an official Ferrari dealer). For the integrated feel, superb functionality and fantastic facilities the system boasts - really, why wouldn't you?