The best cars with Apple CarPlay

After a used car that will make the most of your iPhone? These are some of the best value used cars with Apple CarPlay

Chris Rosamond
Dec 9, 2019

Apple CarPlay was first introduced in March 2014 as the tech giant's attempt to provide the best integrated in-car connection for iPhone users. Previously smartphone users had been able to connect calls and stream music from their phones via Bluetooth, but the CarPlay system was designed to bring much more of the iPhone’s functionality into the car in the safest possible way while also limiting distractions as much as possible.

Connected either by Bluetooth or Lightning-type charger cable, Apple CarPlay works by mirroring your iPhone's screen on your car’s media system. It means you can access a number of your phone apps for music, sat-nav, contacts and messages either via the car’s touchscreen, steering wheel or other physical controls, and you can even use Apple’s Siri assistant service through voice commands. Once connected, your iPhone can’t be used except through the car's systems, which hopefully means you’re not going to be tempted to pick up your phone and risk six points on your licence and a fine – or a crash.

The Apple CarPlay system is very similar in concept to Android Auto and MirrorLink, which are two rival systems designed for phones with Android operating systems. All of them are optimised for certain apps, and in the case of CarPlay that means sat-nav not just via Apple Maps, but using Google or crowd-sourced favourite Waze. Music options include iTunes, Amazon and Spotify, podcast app Stitcher, and audiobook apps.

 

Not every car manufacturer offers Apple CarPlay, but it’s becoming increasingly popular on new cars - coming as standard on many cars, or an additional option on others. So, if you’re looking for wheels with the ultimate iPhone connectivity, then our list of CarPlay-equipped favourites below should give you food for thought.

Best used cars with Apple CarPlay

1. Vauxhall Adam

Best city car with Apple CarPlay

Latest Vauxhall Adam deals with Apple CarPlay from £7,895
Monthly finance from £133

The Vauxhall Adam has just been phased out of production, but that’s no reason to overlook it if you’re after a stylish and young-at-heart city car that offers Apple CarPlay connectivity on a budget.

Underneath its funky bodywork the Adam is basically a Vauxhall Corsa, so it’s exceptionally cheap to run and should be very reliable and easy to own. A four-year old car with around 30,000 miles on the clock will most likely be barely run-in, and its eye-catching design still has kerb-appeal if you want your city car to make a fashion statement.

All Adam models should allow you to connect a smartphone, but for Apple CarPlay you’ll need a car equipped with the 'IntelliLink' media system which boasts a seven-inch touchscreen, CarPlay and Android Auto, too. Find one of these models, though and there's no need to worry if your friends aren't Apple fans; they can still mirror their phones.

If you're scouring the used market and the seven-inch screen is not fitted to the car you’re looking at, try to find an Adam that had the optional Technical Pack fitted when new – or the Adam Energised special edition that came laden with goodies including IntelliLink, 17-inch alloys and a part-leather interior.

2. Vauxhall Astra

Best hatchback with Apple CarPlay

Latest Vauxhall Astra deals with Apple CarPlay from £7,150
Monthly finance from £124

It may be a little less noticeable than the Adam, but Vauxhall’s latest Astra is a terrific drive with handsome looks and a practical interior that deserves to be more highly regarded. The truth is, although the Vauxhall badge can’t compare with the VW Golf for desirability, the Astra is just as pleasing to drive. It’s better value used, too, being cheaper to buy and maintain, while giving nothing away in terms of fuel economy.

It’s a great car to sit inside too, with an attractive dashboard that has a high-quality feel and nothing that looks too cheap, hard or brittle. Comfortable seats coupled with a supple ride mean you’ll enjoy racking up the miles in it, while efficient and smooth engines add to the Astra’s desirability, albeit there’s no getting away from the fact that many buyers would seem to prefer an SUV or crossover than an ‘ordinary’ hatchback these days.

Still, that does mean the Astra is very affordable as a second-hand car, and all the latest generation cars come with sought-after Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility and at least a seven-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dash. That makes it a fantastic value option.

3. Nissan Qashqai

Best SUV with Apple CarPlay

Latest Nissan Qashqai deals with Apple CarPlay from £14,990
Monthly finance from £224

It was one of the original crossovers combining the looks and style of an off-roader with the easy driving manners of a mainstream hatchback, and when the Qashqai first arrived all the way back in 2006, it was an instant hit. While the Qashqai was unarguably a fashion leader, it hasn't been at the cutting edge of new technology, and it took a facelift in 2019 for Apple CarPlay and Android Auto to finally be included as standard spec on Acenta Premium models and above. That means the only Qashqai for sale today without Apple CarPlay is the entry-level Visia - you'll have to narrow down your search to these latest models if you're shopping for a used one.

While it seems odd that Nissan has taken quite so long to rectify the problem of no CarPlay, there’s not much else to criticise if you’re in the market for a trendy crossover. And with prices for even low-mileage 2019 models proving far lower than brand new equivalents, there are still deals to be found on practically new models. The Qashqai offers style, space and practicality, as well as reasonable build quality, while it also features an efficient 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine that can return up to 48mpg, according to official figures.

4. Ford S-Max

Best MPV with Apple CarPlay

Latest Ford S-Max deals with Apple CarPlay from £15,270
Monthly finance from £212

The Ford Galaxy was one of the first and most successful MPVs to be launched in the UK, and its long-lasting appeal rubbed off on the S-Max, which was a slightly smaller spin-off that arrived in 2006, offering sleeker looks and a sportier drive. The second generation arrived in 2015, and retained all the benefits of a genuinely car-like driving experience, a range of efficient petrol and diesel engines, and of course that all important seven-seat option, although with less luggage space than the bigger Galaxy.

The S-Max is a little pricier new than rivals like the Citroen Grand C4 SpaceTourer and Vauxhall Zafira, but it’s definitely one of the most satisfying MPVs to drive and comes very well equipped to boot. Even the entry Zetec model comes with Ford’s decent Sync3 media setup, which means you get an eight-inch touchscreen with the all-important Apple CarPlay functionality built in. You also get dual-zone climate control, all-round electric windows, a digital radio plus Bluetooth and voice control.

Go for a Titanium and you’ll get sat-nav and cruise control which are nice, but the range-topping Vignale with its leather upholstery, digital dashboard and generally more lavish spec may well feel a bit over the top for most family users. 

5. VW Passat

Best family saloon with Apple CarPlay

Latest VW Passat deals with Apple CarPlay from £15,999
Monthly finance from £243

If you're a sensible soul and you want your car to reflect that, you can't do much better than the seriously sensible VW Passat. That or you have a side-line in mini-cabbing.

Either way, you’re going to like the Volkswagen Passat saloon, both for its restrained, no-frills but still good-looking styling, and its extremely roomy interior which shows off VW’s upmarket build-quality to very good effect. If actually feels rather classy, and doesn’t give away too much in terms of road presence to swankier rivals like the BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class. The appeal extends to its driving characteristics too – it’s not quite as soft and compliant as a Mercedes, but it’s impressively comfortable and quiet, and the cabin may not be ostentatious, but it’s attractive, and very well screwed together. The Passat is efficient too, with a relatively new, impressively economical 1.5-litre petrol engine alongside the TDI diesel models.

As a big comfy car, the Passat comes with certain expectations, one of which is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto both featuring on the standard spec list of post-2018 models, even for the entry level SE. Since it's not the most desirable big car, you can also find bargains even on 2019 or 2018 models, so it's well worth considering the Passat if you want an upmarket car, but don't want to pay an upmarket price.

6. Kia Ceed Sportswagon

Best estate car with Apple CarPlay

Latest Kia Ceed SW deals with Apple CarPlay from £11,660
Monthly finance from £177

Just in case the Passat above isn't sensible enough for you, this Kia estate car is an even more rational choice, offering far more space and practicality for your money than the SUVs and crossovers available for a similar price. The Kia Ceed may be in its third generation now, but it still slips under the radar of many buyers, which is a shame as over the years it’s morphed into a genuinely competitive choice – especially in handsome Sportswagon estate guise.

With swoopy styling and a hint of the sporty Kia Stinger about its eye-catching grille and headlight design, the Ceed Sportwagon has plenty of ‘lifestyle’ appeal too. You can’t argue with 600 litres of boot space either - this is a huge amount of room for countless dogs, camping holidays, mountain bikes, flatpack furniture or any other lifestyle you care to indulge in.

You get to choose from a couple of petrol engines including an efficient three-cylinder 1.0-litre, while the 1.4-litre has a bit more muscle for those who like to load their estate cars to the roof. Alternatively a 1.6-litre diesel makes sense if you plan on racking up high mileages.

A strong Kia selling point has always been the relatively lavish equipment levels, and the Ceed doesn’t disappoint. All models come with an eye-catching ‘floating tablet’ media display, and both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are on the menu. The entry-level Ceed 2 also has cruise control, while the Ceed 3 gets dual-zone climate control and privacy glass on top. Better still, the Ceed comes with a seven-year warranty, so even if you buy a one-year old model - potentially saving yourself 35% compared with the new equivalent - you'll still be able to take advantage of six years' cover.

7. Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Best upmarket saloon with Apple CarPlay

Latest Mercedes-Benz C-Class deals with Apple CarPlay from £16,495
Monthly finance from £235

If you want your next car to feel special and have a desirable badge on the bonnet, you'd think Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are guaranteed to be on the spec-sheet. That's not always the case, but with this Mercedes they are.

There’s not much pretentious about the latest Mercedes C-Class, mind you. It feels like a genuine chunk of technology with a big 10.3-inch display screen in the middle of the dash. Naturally Apple CarPlay and Android Auto with Bluetooth connectivity are part of the array of standard features. If you can’t afford a nearly-new 2018 model - and fear not, these models currently start at barely £16,000 - you’ll end up with a smaller seven-inch display. It’s not quite as sharp graphically, or as attention-grabbing, but it’s still an effective and desirable system.

To drive, while the C-Class feels a little less agile than the rival BMW 3 Series on the road, there’s very little in it for the average driver. The C-Class is a winner when it comes to quietness in the cabin and its comfortable ride though, making it hard to beat for harassed business people thrashing up and down the motorway between meetings. You get lots of engine choices too, from the economical C180 petrol all the way up to the rapid AMG C63 – with a great range of diesel choices too.

8. Mini Cooper Convertible

Best convertible with Apple CarPlay

Latest Mini Convertible deals with Apple CarPlay from £15,946
Monthly finance from £231

It’s the UK’s best selling convertible for a reason. Actually quite a few reasons. The Mini Convertible is super fun to drive, looks great especially with racy stripes draped over the bonnet, it’s more practical than your average two-seater sports car, and is even cost-effective to run.

We’re onto the third generation new Mini now, which means you get a slightly bigger boot and a little more cabin space, but to all intents and purposes it offers the same core benefits as the previous version.

You can’t get the drop-top Mini with a diesel these days, but the two petrol engine options in the Cooper and more potent Cooper S are both quick and smooth performers.

If you want to add full iPhone connectivity to all that fun, then make sure you look out for a Mini with one of the optional Navigation Packs which include wireless Apple CarPlay, but not Android Auto.

 

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