Cars with a digital dashboard

They're customisable and easier to read, plus, cars with a digital dashboard can help keep your eyes on the road

Jul 31, 2018

Teletext, faxes, and cheques. They’re just three casualties from the increasingly technological age we live in. After all, feeding a piece of paper into a machine for another piece of paper to come out of another machine elsewhere seems needless and archaic now. Perhaps even laughable.

And so, as the technological era barrels forwards, it looks as though the simple dials of cars from yesteryear are on their way out too, as they are increasingly being replaced by cars with completely digital dashboards.

Typically, they range from a fairly simple mph read out, to an all-singing all-dancing complete dashboard, with only a few physical buttons thrown in.


Nearly all modern-cars are available with a digital dash, but they vary depending on model, and the trim level of that model.

Keep reading to find out about the different types of digital dashboard on offer.

Digital dashboard: the good

✔  Clarity
✔  East adjustment (eg mph to kph)
✔  Customisable by the user

Digital dashboards: the bad

Takes awhile to get used to
More complex
More effort

Digital trip computer

Usage most new cars will have at least this level of digital dash fitted, but expect basic small cars to not have much more

This is by far and away the most simplistic type of digital dash available. The trip computer screen is typically placed between the rev counter and speedometer, and it usually shows you information like your mpg and your speed. Basic small cars may just have this, but more expensive cars might have additional information like tyre pressures or cruise control settings.

The new Suzuki Swift  uses a digital trip computer, as do older generation Audi A3s.

Digital readout

Usage most manufacturers incorporate this into at least their mid spec cars

A digital readout display is usually placed above the speed and rev binnacles, and are reserved for important information like mph and mpg. They work well as they’re incredibly clear if you only want to see a few pieces of information at a time.

Older Honda Civics used this type of screen, as does the Citroen C4 Picasso.

Digital dials

Usage a lot of new cars will have them, including high-end manufacturers like BMW, Jaguar, and Mercedes

The screen quality in cars continues to improve with every passing few years, and we’re at the point where digital dials in front of the steering wheel actually look like real ones. But the benefits of going digital is that they become a lot more adaptable - as they can also show you sat-nav instructions or your contacts list on your phone. They also work in conjunction with other parts of the car - for instance, if your car has a sport mode it might change the RPM gauge to tell you when to change gear in order to get the most performance.

Expect to find these dials in the BMW 5 Series, Fiat 500, and Jaguar XF

Fully digital instrument dial

Usage primarily in luxury cars for now

This is generally the most expensive, most advanced, and most adaptable type of digital dashboard. These types of dashboards use large widescreen entertainment systems that enable the driver to cherry pick what they want in front of them. For instance, you can choose to have your sat-nav instructions and speed, or the radio and rev counter with the speedo tucked away. Alternatively you can just have the speedometer squarely in front of you.

Audi’s ‘virtual cockpit’ system was one of the first, but Mercedes’ MBUX system is now available in its smallest car, the Mercedes A-Class. Citroen’s latest effort in the DS 7 Crossback works well, and has a raft of preset modes, which mean you don’t have to pick all of your dials individually.

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