Best small cars with sat-nav

Small cars might be modest in size but pick the right one and you can get an impressive sat-nav system. Read on for eight of the best

James Wilson
Apr 29, 2021

Just because a car is small doesn't mean you should have to do without sat-nav - or worse still, put up with a rubbish system. Whether you like the idea of a helping hand to get you to a friend's new house a few miles away, or you're going on a long road trip, having a decent sat-nav can make a huge difference.

The problem is, many small cars are built to tight budgets which can result in iffy graphics and clunky software. That said, some car manufacturers include slick sat-navs from their more expensive models in their smaller cars to improve things. For example, Ford uses the same sat-nav system across most of its range, which is good news if you want a smaller Ford with a sophisticated sat-nav system.

Additionally, there is more than one way to provide excellent sat-nav systems in cars. One option is to mirror the software used by smartphones in the car. Android phones do this with Android Auto and Apple’s devices use Apple CarPlay. Sometimes car manufacturers bundle mirroring functionality together and call it something different. Some VWs, for example, come with 'App-Connect' - which includes both CarPlay and Android Auto.

If you're wondering what makes the best small car sat-nav, there are a number of factors. First off, the system needs to be easy to use and cause minimal distraction from driving. It also needs to look the part, as there is little point having super-fast processing power if the graphics are similar to that of the original Pac Man. Finally, they also need to include nifty features. Many systems can use journey information to calculate the most economical route or even connect to the internet to get real-time traffic information and fuel station prices.

It is worth keeping in mind, though, that many internet services require a data connection. Some systems can piggyback on a driver’s smartphone (using an app provided by the car manufacturer) and use data that way. Others setups need a dedicated connection and while these are often free for a number of years after a car is first registered they may require a monthly subscription in the future.

Even if you're on a tight budget, there are plenty of appealing small cars with sat-nav included, with prices starting from less than £7,000 or around £130* per month on PCP finance - even less if you go for a car with a smartphone dock and use the manufacturer's app for sat-nav. Keep reading to find out which model suits you best.

Best small cars with sat-nav

1. Renault Zoe

Our pick Renault Zoe GT Line
Used deals from £21,499
Monthly finance from £306*

For a small car, the electric Renault Zoe can come with a particularly large media system. Higher-spec GT Line models come with a 9.3-inch screen with built-in sat-nav, which is an option on some lower specification models. Interestingly, the screen is portrait, like systems seen in expensive electric Teslas. Though Renault’s own software isn't the most impressive, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality improves things a lot.

The current Zoe was launched in 2020 and brought subtly different styling to the previous version and a revised interior. Still, it is the changes under the bodywork that most drivers will find interesting. The official maximum claimed range per charge is 245 miles, which is more than enough for the majority of motorists’ daily needs. Driving the electric Zoe is very easy, with the standard-fit automatic gearbox making nipping through town centres a doddle.

2. Seat Ibiza

Our pick Seat Ibiza SE Technology
Used deals from £6,700
Monthly finance from £127*

The Seat Ibiza is a great small car and is available with built-in sat-nav in most trims - including SE Technology, FR, FR Sport and Xcellence. The system itself is very intuitive and comes with features seen in bigger, more expensive cars like the Volkswagen Golf. One such feature is that the eight-inch touchscreen display automatically reveals virtual buttons when it senses a hand near it and hides them at other times. As a result, the screen is less cluttered when you're not changing the settings.

If you're on a tighter budget, entry-level SE spec is the cheapest option. This has a smaller 6.5-inch touchscreen and newer versions feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto - look for models with ‘Full Link smartphone integration’. Full Link has been standard across the Ibiza range from 2021 onwards. The Ibiza is a enjoyable little car to drive, with sharp styling and a number of punchy 1.0-litre petrol engines to choose from.

SEAT IBIZA BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Mini Hatchback

Our pick Mini Cooper
Used deals from £10,350
Monthly finance from £153*

One of the Mini Hatch’s defining features is its large circular media system, which is available with one of two optional sat-nav systems. While part of the system’s magic is undoubtedly the fun way it is presented - with the lighting around the display even mimicking certain car functions like speaker volume - it is exceptionally straightforward to use.

The system is based on BMW’s iDrive setup, which is particularly easy to use compared with many rival systems. There are two screen sizes to choose from: 6.6 and 8.8 inches. The latter features particularly sharp graphics and Apple CarPlay is also available, although it only became an option around 2018. On the other hand, Android Auto hasn't supported on models sold until 2021, though it is likely to be added in the near future. On top of the funky dashboard display, the Mini Hatch is also brilliant fun to drive and is nice and refined when cruising at motorway speeds.

MINI HATCHBACK BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Ford Fiesta

Our pick Ford Fiesta Titanium
Used deals from £8,000
Monthly finance from £149*

The latest version of the Ford Fiesta arrived in 2017 and some trims came with a much improved eight-inch media system which Ford calls SYNC 3. Opting for a trim such as Titanium or ST-Line X gets you the eight-inch SYNC 3 system and this is important as it comes with built-in sat-nav. Overall the layout of buttons and graphics is clear and easy to use, while the added benefit of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto means that even if Ford’s in-house sat-nav isn’t to your taste, there is an alternative.

Bear in mind that entry-level Style and Zetec trims did without the large display, however, and both specs were eventually dropped. They were replaced with Trend trim but that also didn’t have sat-nav, though newer models do have an eight-inch screen.

One of the Fiesta’s other strong suits is fun; it offers precise steering and is enjoyable to drive, with the turbocharged 'EcoBoost' petrol engines providing a good blend of power and fuel economy.

FORD FIESTA BUYERS' GUIDE

5. Volkswagen T-Cross

Our pick Volkswagen T-Cross SEL
Used deals from £17,151
Monthly finance from £247*

Every version of the VW T-Cross comes with an eight-inch touchscreen media system in 2021. Furthermore, all but entry-level S trim feature Apple CarPlay and Android Auto functionality. That said, 'App-Connect' is an option on S models and this brings smartphone mirroring software.

VW’s ‘Discover Media Navigation’ system - which includes sat-nav - is only included as standard on SEL and R-Line trims but is optional on S and SE models. The media system is slick with the screen responding to smartphone-like pinch and swipe motions. In addition to the good in-car technology, the T-Cross is versatile, with the rear seats able to slide forward and back, and comes with a modest range of engines that offer decent fuel economy but aren’t the most powerful.

VOLKSWAGEN T-CROSS BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Hyundai i10

Our pick Hyundai i10 Premium
Used deals from £12,026
Monthly finance from £192*

Affordable city cars often don't come with the most high-tech features, often forgoing luxuries such as a plush sat-nav system in the name of keeping prices down. Hyundai, though, includes an eight-inch touchscreen media display in every version of its current i10, which was launched in 2020.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, too, but Hyundai’s sat-nav system is only available as part of an optional Tech Pack on Premium and N Line models. If there is one criticism of the i10, it is that the new prices are quite high compared to rivals such as the Citroen C1 - although opting for a second-hand model does cut the cost. While it is small in size, the i10 is comfortable out on the open road and there are both automatic and manual gearboxes to choose from.

HYUNDAI I10 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. Ford Puma

Our pick Ford Puma Titanium
Used deals from £17,695
Monthly finance from £241*

The Ford Puma is a popular new small SUV that is practical, funky-looking - although perhaps not to everyone’s tastes - and great to drive, something few of the Puma’s rivals can claim. The cherry on top is that standard equipment levels are also good.

The sat-nav system is the same SYNC 3 setup as in higher-spec Fiestas. With the Puma though, sat-nav is included on all models. Handily, there is a wireless phone charging pad as standard, so those that decide to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto can also keep their phone’s battery topped-up.

MORE DETAILS ON THE FORD PUMA

8. Skoda Citigo

Used deals from £4,499
Monthly finance from £98*

The Skoda Citigo is a frugal, relatively affordable and practical little car. Since 2017 it hasn’t been available with built-in sat-nav but Skoda has a clever solution. The Citigo has a small but sharp digital display in the centre of the dashboard, and a cradle where you can mount a smartphone. There is also a free sat-nav app provided by Skoda, though you can still use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto on your phone, and a USB socket for keeping your phone charged.

You may see this setup as a cop-out, but it does, in fact, make a lot of sense. One of the biggest problems with modern in-car tech is keeping it up to date while also making it easy to use. Integrating your phone for sat-nav bypasses this, as you can download updates to your phone as you would with other apps.

SKODA CITIGO 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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