The 5 best and 5 worst in-car tech options

BMW 1 Series iDrive Professional

BMW iDrive

Just to prove we're not BMW fanboys, here's something BMW could do better. It's one thing charging a couple of thou' for an infotainment system in an £80k luxury limo. But the BMW 1 Series is the brand's entry-model starting at £17,510.

In that context, charging nearly £2,000 for nav, tunes and a few other frills is utterly outrageous. In many ways, you get more functionality in a £400 tablet.

It's pity because iDrive is one of if not the best full-feature in-car systems on the market. We'd definitely want it in any BMW we bought. Our advice is to drive a hard bargain in the showroom and get the dealer to throw it in for free or at least at a very heavy discount.

Honda Civic Honda SD Navigation System

Honda SD Navigation

Hondas are reliable, well made and reasonably priced. We like Hondas. But what on earth is Honda doing charing nearly £2,000 for the frankly semi-shonky SD Navigation System?

OK, it has a 6.1-inch touchscreen, USB, Bluetooth connectivity and navigation. But it feels utterly ancient compared with the latest and greatest systems. Internet connectivity? Apps? You must be joking. Luckily, it slots into a double-DIN slot in the dash, so you it's easy enough to skip it and buy something better from an aftermarket supplier.

Mercedes A-Class DAB radio

Mercedes DAB

Four hundred and twenty earth pounds for DAB radio? Cue John McEnroe levels of pure, unadulterated outrage.

There's not much more we can say about this one. We doubt it costs much more than £10 to put DAB in an A-Class. And frankly it ought to be standard. So charging that much for it is positively preposterous.

That's a shame because the Drive Kit Plus iPhone-integration feature of the Mercedes-Benz COMAND system (see our video here) is really rather funky. So Merc does know how to do good infotainment features. It just needs to wake up a bit on the pricing.

MINI Cooper Bluetooth with USB


If you asked use to put together a Bill of Rights for modern in-car infotainment, we'd say every new car should have DAB, Bluetooth and USB as standard.

When you think about it, you often get the latter two on even the cheapest portable devices. There are smartphones that have that kind of functionality, plus a touchscreen, internet connectivity, GPS and more. Anyway, at the very least, Bluetooth and USB should be cheap.

OK, you get an armrest connector for your phone. And MINI swears blind the price reflects the cost. But for £700, it's surely one of the biggest rip offs in car tech.

Porsche Cayenne TV Tuner

Porsche Cayenne

How much use is a TV tuner in a car? That's open to reasonable debate.

What's not is that charging over £1,000 to add that functionality takes breathtaking cheek. Just think how much HDTV that would buy you. Hell, you could buy a pretty decent HDTV and a nice 1080p projector for £1,000 these days. And Porsche wants that to stick in a £50 tuner board? Very, very naughty.


Technology and cars. Increasingly the twain shall meet. Which is handy, because Jeremy (Twitter) is addicted to both. Long-time tech journalist, former editor of iCar magazine and incumbent car guru for T3 magazine, Jeremy reckons in-car technology is about to go thermonuclear. No, not exploding cars. That would be silly. And dangerous. But rather an explosive period of unprecedented innovation. Enjoy the ride.