Whenever I look at a factory fit navigation system I inevitably find myself comparing it to an aftermarket TomTom unit. In pretty much every case, the factory fit sat-nav is nowhere near as good as a TomTom, but in the case of this Clio GT the story is a little different, because the factory fit unit is a TomTom!
The Carminat TomTom is a £450 option on the Clio, which is pretty reasonable by factory fit navigation standards. Obviously it’s still a lot more expensive than an aftermarket TomTom, but you are getting all the advantages of the voice commands being pumped through the stereo system and your music volume being dropped every time one of those commands is issued. And let’s not forget that a factory fit item always looks better than something stuck to your windscreen with a power cable draped to your cigarette lighter.
If you’ve used a TomTom in the past you’ll instantly recognise the menus and icons on the 5.8in colour screen, and if you haven’t you’ll probably be won over by how instantly accessible the TomTom interface is. However, if you are already a TomTom user, like myself, you’ll no doubt find yourself stabbing in vain at the screen, because unlike every aftermarket TomTom, the unit in this Clio doesn’t have a touch-screen interface.
Not only is there no touch-screen interface, but there are no controls for the sat-nav built into the car either. Instead you get a standard TomTom wireless remote, which slides into a little case that resides in one of the centre console cup holders. Although this position is handy for access while driving, it’s easily visible from each and every window when the car is parked – not ideal from a security perspective. My advice would be to whip out some Velcro and keep the remote somewhere equally as handy, but less obvious to petty criminals.
The use of a separate remote control for the TomTom system does present another issue too. If you lose the remote, you have a pretty useless sat-nav integrated into your car. Obviously you can buy a replacement, but until you do, satellite navigation will be off the menu.
Putting the negatives of the choice of control method to one side, there are many positives too. For a start, the remote is pretty basic in its operation, which means that it doesn’t take long to get the hang of it, thus making it easy to use the TomTom system itself. Matters are helped by the clean and logical layout of the TomTom interface. Inputting destination details is still nowhere near as simple as on a touch-screen, but it’s not an arduous chore using the remote.
Change of control method excepted, what you’re getting is one of the best navigation systems available. If there’s one disappointment, it’s that it doesn’t support the latest TomTom Live traffic update information, but then it would need to have some kind of cellular data connectivity built in. That aside though, you’re getting the vast majority of what makes an aftermarket TomTom so good.