Volvo V50: sat nav

Slick sat-nav

Volvo's satellite navigation system is typical of some of the unique thinking on Swedish products that goes into solving problems.

I first drove a Volvo with sat-nav in 1999. The system must work pretty well, because little has changed in the last 10 years.

The screen is hidden on top of the dashboard when not in use, but it pops up as soon as the driver pushes one of the function buttons.

Volvo sites these on the back of the steering wheel, within reach of the forefinger on your right hand. There is an 'enter' button and a 'back up' button as well as a tiny joystick type item for scrolling in different directions.

This isn't as confusing as it may sound, and after a few minutes you get used to using it. Alternatively, if you're carrying a passenger or you really can't get the hang of the steering wheel-mounted controls, Volvo supplies a remote control handset.

The navigation system also monitors traffic reports and if there are problems ahead it often suggests a diversion route that may be quicker than the one already set.

Helpfully, it shows the difference in distance and time in the proposed diversion and asks the driver whether it should be taken, and it has helped is a few real-life situations so far.

Although the next generation hard-disk drive sat-nav systems haven't reached Volvo yet, this one is proving perfectly adequate for my needs.

Current mileage: 3861

Average mpg: 44.8