Cars have been controlled by computers for decades, and there’s a whole lot more information potentially available about how they’re functioning than is shown on the average dashboard. You don’t have to be a garage mechanic to get to it, either. You just need a device such as TomTom’s Curfer.
There isn’t very much in the Curfer box. The only hardware included is a dongle called the LINK 100. Everything else operates via a smartphone app, available for Android and iOS. The dongle fits onto your car’s OBD II interface, so if the vehicle in question doesn’t have one of these then it won’t work. The car I tried – a 1999 Saab 9-3 – isn’t officially supported, but Saab was an early OBD II adopter so it did actually work.
The smartphone connects to the Curfer hardware via Bluetooth, so the first job once the hardware is installed and the app downloaded is to pair the dongle with the phone. Once this is complete, you can read off a wealth of information about how your car is running, including revs, voltages, speeds, fuel pressures and G-forces. This is recorded alongside the GPS location from your smartphone.
You can view data historically for your journeys, but TomTom has also gamified the process by allocating scores out of 100 in various categories. The closer to 100 you get, the better your performance, and if you do really well you’re awarded badges that you could share online, assuming you have friends who like that kind of bragging. Even without this feature, it’s fun to see how smoothly you can drive, for example.
It’s worth pointing out that this isn’t a tuning device. It can only read information, not write anything back or tweak any settings. But at £59, it isn’t hugely expensive, and judging by the comments from current users, is rather addictive.
The TomTom Curfer may not be essential, but it’s certainly fun if you want an insight into your car data and driving style.
At time of review the TomTom Curfer was available for £69.99.