Best in-car sat-nav

In-car sat-nav can save time - and potentially arguments, too - by providing clear route guidance. Here are some of the best systems

James Wilson
Apr 28, 2021

The best in-car sat-navs are easy to understand, simple to use and packed with plenty of cutting-edge features. It also helps if your sat-nav can get you from A to B time and time again, even if you have no clue where A or B actually are. Car manufacturers know that motorists often appreciate a helping hand, so they are constantly improving their sat-nav systems.

Often it is high-end cars that come with the best sat-navs (cars such as the Audi A6) but if you know where to look there are all kinds of makes and models that come with great navigation software. These include small and affordable hatchbacks, low-emission hybrids and SUVs of all sizes.

Additionally, the advent of smartphone mirroring software such as Android Auto and Apple CarPlay means that as long as a car has a digital media system and a driver has a smartphone, popular navigation apps such as Google Maps can be used onscreen.

For more information on Apple CarPlay or Android Auto take a read of our guides using the links below:

What is Apple CarPlay?
What is Android Auto?

Below are eight cars with sat-nav systems that really stand out. All of these cars are readily available on BuyaCar from around £10,000 - roughly £150 per month - to £40,000 - around £600 per month.

Whether you fancy a car with slick voice controls for the sat-nav, as with the Mercedes A-Class, or an enormous touchscreen that can map out the nearest charging points and show how much battery charge you'll have left when you get there, as with the electric Tesla Model S, there are plenty of appealing options.

Which cars have the best in-car sat-nav?

1. Mercedes A-Class

Our pick Mercedes A-Class AMG Line Premium
Used deals from £17,000
Monthly finance from £236*

The Mercedes A-Class appears here for three reasons. The first is the way in which its sat-nav is presented, second is the impressive augmented reality feature, with the third being the effectiveness of its voice controls when setting the sat-nav destination.

Models equipped with the top-of-the-line 'MBUX' system - such as top-spec Premium and Premium Plus versions - have two 10.3-inch displays spanning the dashboard, which look very impressive indeed. Meanwhile, more affordable versions have smaller screens for the media system display and digital dials behind the steering wheel.

Then there is the augmented reality feature. On the left-hand-side display is a live video feed of the road ahead, onto which direction arrows are superimposed. The system works very well and is perfect if you're always taking wrong turns when trying to follow your current sat-nav.

Another bonus with the A-Class system is that it has slick voice controls that let you set your destination on the move, all without having to prod a touchscreen or a number of dashboard buttons.

The standard A-Class MBUX setup uses two seven-inch displays and even though these don’t come with the augmented reality feature they are still better than most rival systems. As for the rest of the current A-Class - which was launched in 2018 - it comes with efficient engines, good standard equipment and offers a refined driving experience.

MERCEDES A-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Tesla Model S

Our pick Tesla Model S
Used deals Limited stock

The Tesla Model S has been on sale in the UK since 2012 and features a striking high-tech cabin. Taking centre stage on the dash is a huge 17-inch touchscreen media system which is packed with clever features and an operating system which is very much like a smartphone. Earlier models have the large screen in an upright format, while later models feature a landscape screen - as shown in the image above.

One of the most useful features is that the sat-nav route guidance shows how much battery charge you're likely have left at the end of a journey or if you take an alternative route that passes one of Tesla’s Supercharger charging stations, which offer super speedy charging. Driving a Model S is also something of a revelation compared with petrol and diesel cars, thanks to the car's immediate acceleration and whisper-quiet drive.

3. BMW 1 Series

Our pick BMW 1 Series M Sport
Used deals from £10,250
Monthly finance from £189*

Although a new version of the 1 Series is now on sale, the previous model is still a cracking car - especially models with BMW’s optional Professional Navigation System. The 'Pro Nav' system revolves around an 8.8-inch dash-mounted display with a rotary controller located in front of the gearstick. It is a relatively simple setup but it is very effective and easy to use. Additionally, the graphics are nice and sharp. The Professional Navigation System is optional on most models, so make sure any specific version you're considering has this fitted, if it's important to you.

Another standout feature from the previous-generation 1 Series is that all models send power to the rear wheels - a trait typically found in sporty cars. This gives the car a slightly sportier feel from behind the wheel than some other hatchbacks, though in day-to-day driving the difference is subtle. The 1 Series also has a great interior and a range of efficient yet punchy engines.

2011-2019 BMW 1 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Kia Stinger

Our pick Kia Stinger GT-Line
Used deals Limited stock

Although the Kia Stinger’s sat-nav doesn’t hog the limelight with futuristic tech, it does have an awful lot going for it. It is easy to understand and simple to use thanks to an eight-inch touchscreen display. It also uses route information - such as speed camera and traffic jam locations - sourced from established sat-nav manufacturer TomTom.

Another benefit with the Stinger is that Kia offers a very long warranty - seven years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. As a result, any major electrical gremlins that result from a manufacturing fault - including sat-nav related issues - should be fixed under warranty. The Stinger is also very good value, especially compared to the likes of the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe and Audi A5. It is also enjoyable to drive and packed with standard equipment.

KIA STINGER BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Fiat Panda

Our pick Fiat Panda Waze
Used deals from £4,000
Monthly finance from £80*

The Fiat Panda Waze is a bit of a curiosity. It comes with a Waze mapping app integrated into the car’s multimedia system - which you can install on your phone - and when paired with a smartphone mounted on the dash (which Fiat provides a cradle for), it can do all kinds of funky things.

Waze on its own is very useful as it pools user data together to build an up-to-date picture of traffic and incidents on your route. For example, someone stuck in traffic because of an accident can report it via the app and Waze will then find alternative routes for other users to avoid the incident.

Being that Fiat modified its own Uconnect app to work with Waze, the driver’s smartphone will also be able to inform motorists when their car’s fuel or tyre pressures are getting low, when the next scheduled service is due and also adjust the volume of the radio.

Considering how easy it is for sat-navs fitted into cars to become slow and look dated, a smartphone app which can be easily updated is a slick alternative. There are limitations, however, such as requiring mobile data and the screen-size being limited to that of a phone, but for a small and economical car like the Panda a smartphone doubles as a sat-nav very well.

FIAT PANDA BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Audi A6

Our pick Audi A6 S Line
Used deals from £25,100
Monthly finance from £355*

Audi has long had a reputation for making cars with excellent quality interiors. The latest A6, which launched in 2018, is no exception. Part of the reason that the Audi excels is down to its flashy digital displays which can be used for navigation.

A6 models equipped with the Technology Pack come with Audi’s 12.3-inch 'Virtual Cockpit' digital dials and a large 10.1-inch central display. Virtual Cockpit replaces conventional car dials with a screen, which is customisable and can even function as a secondary navigation display, with the map shown behind the speedometer display.

The graphics are excellent, with 3D imagery also available. Currently, only range-topping Vorsprung models come with Audi’s Technology Pack as standard but it is an optional extra for trims such as S Line and Black Edition. Meanwhile, Audi’s 'MMI Navigation with MMI Touch' is standard on the lower trims and it still functions very well. As for the rest of the A6, it really is a class act - not as much fun to drive as models such as the Jaguar XF, but very refined and comfortable.

AUDI A6 SALOON BUYERS' GUIDE
AUDI A6 AVANT BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Renault Clio

Our pick Renault Clio S Edition
Used deals from £14,000
Monthly finance from £198*

Renault introduced a new version of the Clio back in 2019 and by all accounts, the French carmaker did a very good job. The Clio looks stylish, it comes with plenty of standard equipment and it is very enjoyable to drive. It is also small enough to make nipping through town easy and should be cheap to run, thanks to a range of economical petrol and diesel engines. There is a hybrid model, too.

From mid-range S Edition up, Renault includes a 9.3-inch multimedia display as standard. What differentiates this from its rivals is that it is portrait in format rather than landscape - similar to systems used in plush Volvos. Even though Renault’s graphics aren’t the best in the business, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are included, and these look as slick as they do in cars that are four times the price of the Clio.

RENAULT CLIO BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Hyundai Ioniq PHEV

Our pick Hyundai Ioniq Premium
Used deals from £13,273
Monthly finance from £174*

Hyundai’s Ioniq PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) is a very appealing low-emission car. It was updated in 2019 and if your budget will stretch, these updated models are the ones to go for. Part of the reasoning for this is Hyundai introduced a new 10.3-inch multimedia system in 2019 through which the sat-nav or Apple CarPlay/Android Auto can be used. The built-in sat-nav is impressive and is much more modern-looking than the system used in one of its closest rivals - the Toyota Prius.

As the Ioniq comes with a built-in sim card, it can benefit from connected services such as live parking and traffic information. Thanks to something Hyundai calls ECO-DAS (ECO driving assistant) the Ioniq is also able to plot the best use of battery and petrol-engine use depending on how hilly the calculated route ahead will be.

Furthermore, the Ioniq feels very well built and comes with a mountain of standard technology such as a heated steering wheel and cruise control that adapts to the speed of cars in front. Pre-2019 models are still excellent, so don’t worry if newer models are out of reach financially.

HYUNDAI IONIQ HYBRID BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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