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The best car brands for connectivity and infotainment

We take a look at the best infotainment systems offered by car manufacturers in 2017. We consider the technology that excels in the following areas: smartphone connectivity, satellite navigation and driver updates, safety features and user friendliness.



Smartphone connectivity

SEAT – Full Link and DriveApp

SEAT’s latest advancement in connectivity is Full Link technology. With this system, you can connect almost any smartphone to your car using MirrorLink, AndroidAuto or Apple CarPlay. On top of that, SEAT’s DriveApp lets you enjoy features such as weather updates, social media feeds and driver monitoring.

 Ford – FordSYNC with AppLink

New Ford models use the FordSYNC3 with AppLink system, which is iOS and Android compatible. With this system, you can access your favourite smartphone apps using voice commands, steering-wheel controls or via the multifunctional display.

You can take calls, find nearby events and listen to your favourite music using your voice alone. The 8-inch touchscreen also has pinch and swipe functionality (similar to what you find on smartphones), for ease of use.

Satellite navigation and driver updates

Volkswagen – Discover Navigation Pro

Volkswagen’s Discover Navigation Pro system is an optional extra on most new Volkswagens such as the Passat, Golf and Tiguan.

The system can inform you of where the nearest parking spots are, up-to-date traffic information, points of interest and speed limits. The system also lets you choose from three possible routes – fast, short and eco-friendly.

Thanks to Volkswagen’s free lifetime navigation software updates, you’ll never have to worry about your system becoming outdated.

And on top of these great features, the system also has some great media entertainment, including DAB, FM and AM radio, CD drive, AUX IN and SD reader. There’s also Bluetooth connectivity so you can make hands-free calls on the go and high-quality 20 watt front and rear speakers for listening to music.

Vauxhall – IntelliLink and OnStar

Vauxhall’s infotainment offering is excellent. Its IntelliLink system features a fantastic amount of kit as standard, including a 7-inch touchscreen, DAB radio, Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Pay more and you can enjoy a larger, 8-inch screen with sat nav and more.

The newest version of IntelliLink, as found in the Vauxhall Astra, puts key iPhone features onto the display, and allows you to answer calls and listen to music using voice commands or Siri.

Vauxhall OnStar is available as an optional extra on virtually all new Vauxhall models and even comes as standard with certain trim levels.

OnStar boasts several useful features for drivers such as Wi-Fi, location reporting for emergency services, diagnostics checks and smartphone integration. There’s also a Stolen Vehicle Assistance feature that actually helped us to find a Vauxhall Astra that was stolen from one of our branches last year!

 Safety features

Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Fiat, Jeep, Abarth – Uconnect

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ infotainment system is one of the best around with plenty of neat features such as voice commands, Bluetooth connectivity and built-in navigation.

Where it really stands out, though, is in the safety features that have been included in the Uconnect package. Getting the help you need has never been easier, with emergency and stolen vehicle assistance. Uconnect even has a Vehicle Finder feature, which makes it easier to locate your car in a crowded parking area.

But take note: you often need to opt for the larger screen in order to unlock the system’s optimal functionality.

User friendliness

BMW – iDrive and ConnectedDrive

BMW iDrive is one of the most intuitive infotainment systems on the market. Every car in the BMW range features a simple click wheel controller for iDrive with several buttons surrounding it. The physical buttons are simple to use while driving and allow you to switch easily between the different settings.

Optional extra ConnectedDrive also lets you add services and apps to the system such as Spotify or Google Maps.

When paired with the optional Harmon Kardon audio system available in the 3-Series, this infotainment package is hard to beat.

Kia – UVO

The Kia Cee’d scored the highest number of points in JD Power’s infotainment category in the recent Driver Power survey. The system found in the Cee’d, called UVO, was praised for its touchscreen visibility and sensitivity and the user-friendliness of the controls and switches.

Kia owners will benefit from seven years of updates as part of the purchase price. It’s easy to pair your mobile to the system and there’s USB connectivity too for on-the-go charging.

The new UVO infotainment software update is available on the new Kia Sportage, and comes in three different guises. The entry-level 1 system features a 5-inch touchscreen. The 2 upgrade runs off a 7-inch unit, and sat-nav, DAB radio and Bluetooth connectivity make it well worth the extra cash. The top spec 3 version has an even larger 8-inch display, USB inputs, eight speakers and a subwoofer for surround sound audio.

About the Author

Sophie McGraw

Staff writer at Arnold Clark