Been Using Issue 15

This Month I Have Mostly Been Using…

Elsewhere in this issue, you’ll read about my trip to France. Now, I truly hate what my mate James describes as “sat-nav zombies” – the sort of people who need a sat-nav to get from their bedroom to the bathroom, and place the sat-nav in the centre of the screen because they rely on what it says more than what they can see. The sort of people who, when you ask, “So which route did you take to get there?” reply, “Dunno…”

However, travelling abroad, I got this Garmin Drive-Assist 51LMT-S and, frankly, I would have been knackered without it. We’d probably still be blundering around some back roads now. It’s a mightily clever little device, with a clear five-inch touch-screen, a strong suction-cup to mount it to the screen, and complete coverage of France (and, doubtless, most of the rest of Europe). There’s a dash-cam built into the back, which, fortunately, we didn’t need, but it makes a lot of sense. I also had the distances and speeds set to metric to prevent speeding… There are other built-in features, such as live traffic updates, a lane departure warning (which I switched off because, in a big car on narrow French roads, it got tedious), and proximity warnings to the car in front.

It did have its faults, of course. It tells you what speed limit you’re in at any given time, and it’s not always 100% correct, plus the charming ‘English Rose’ voiceover lady had a nasty habit of announcing that you needed to take the next motorway or A-road exit before you’d fully passed the previous one, causing temporary panic and taking your eyes off the road. It was also amusing to listen to English Rose mangle the French place and road names.

James also brought along a proper, old-fashioned map, on proper old-fashioned paper. It was useful to have it as back-up, but otherwise it was just a comedy prop for opening up across the driver’s face while the passenger was trying to read it, then refusing to fold up properly, then tearing along the creases.

As I said before, we’d have been (literally) lost without this Garmin. It is the top of the range, so it’s pretty pricey, with an RRP of £269.99, but it does have just about every feature you could want…. plus the odd one you don’t. It got us everywhere we needed to go, it worked even in miles-long tunnels, the speedo was far more accurate than the one in the dash, and, if I’d bothered to read the lengthy manual properly, I’m sure it would be the ideal travelling companion. Now I wouldn’t go back without it. See for details on the full range, and your nearest stockist.