Cars with digital speedometers

With easy to read info and custom layouts in some cases, cars with digital speedometers could help you keep your eyes on the road

BuyaCar team
Jul 18, 2018

Just as the grandfather clock has given way to the smartwatch, the speedometer dial is slowly fading into history.

Digital dashboards are increasingly available, and they range from a simple speed read-out to a high-resolution widescreen display with customisable options.

Many drivers find them clearer to read and you can quickly switch from mph to kph, avoiding that brief moment of confusion when you drive off the ferry in France, spot a 70 sign and can’t quite work out how fast you should be driving - while a furious Citroen driver toots their horn behind you.

 

Virtually every modern car is available with some form of digital speed display, but it may be an optional extra, so it’s worth double-checking whether the model you like has one fitted.

Scroll down for more information on the different types of digital speedometer available and the manufacturers that offer them.

 

Benefits of a digital speedometer

  • Clarity Many drivers prefer to read numbers than an analogue speedometer.
  • Easy adjustment Switch quickly between kph and mph when driving abroad, so you don’t need to squint at the tiny kilometre markings on a dial.
  • Customisable Fully digital displays allow the layout to be adjusted to suit you.

 

Types of digital speedometer

Digital trip computer

Small screens between the speedometer and rev counter are available on almost every new car. Often called trip computers, they usually include an estimate of your real-world fuel economy, the range left in your fuel tank and - on all but basic displays - your current speed in digits.
More expensive cars tend to include a colour screen with additional functions, including sat-nav directions.

Available on most new vehicles, although it’s often optional on smaller and cheaper cars. Functionality varies; a few very basic trip computers don’t include speed information.

 

Digital readout

Commonly displayed on a calculator-like LCD screen, these were futuristic in the 1980s, but appear basic today.

Some cars such as the previous-generation Honda Civic have a separate display for the speed alone, but you may also find a small screen inside or next to the standard speedometer dial. The Citroen C4 Picasso displays the speed on a central dashboard screen - a basic version of the customisable displays below

Available on some models from manufacturers including: CitroenHonda

 

Digital dials

High-resolution screens can make these look like the real thing, but digital dials are much more flexible. They may be able to show basic sat-nav directions within the dials, or to display a menu, allowing you to change the radio station or make a hands-free call. Put the car into a sporty mode, and they may change colour. You’ll find them on a Fiat 500, as well as a BMW 5 Series

Available on some models from manufacturers including: BMWFiatHonda, Ford, Jaguar, Mercedes, Renault

 

Fully digital instrument panel

You might want a large speedometer in the middle of your display, or to shrink your speed display into the corner, and focus on a large map of where you’re going. Alternatively, you may want a list of the tracks on the album that you are listening to, squeezed between a standard-sized speedometer or rev counter.

These are the sort of options available with the large widescreen displays that are now appearing (normally as options) in more and more vehicles, including the latest Audi A1. The theory is that you have the information that you need and want right in front of your eyes, reducing the amount of time you’re looking away from the road.

Audi was one of the first to offer its digital display, known as virtual cockpit, but the competition is catching up - and improving - with Mercedes’ display (called MBUX) now available with the A-Class. BMW will launch its own version shortly, while even Skoda now offers the option on its Karoq - thanks to technology from Audi, its sister company.

Available on some models from manufacturers including: Audi, DS, Land Rover, Mercedes (new A-Class),
Peugeot, Seat, Skoda, Tesla, Volkswagen, Volvo

 

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