Sat Nav Review: Mio Spirit 485

Mio Spirit 485 sat nav
The Mio in use in town – street-level directions were pretty accurate (click for larger image)

Disclosure: Mio loaned me a sat nav at no cost for the purpose of this review. I received no payment and was not required to write a positive review.

The Mio Spirit 485 is a sub-£100 sat nav with a great range of features and an attractively-sized 4.3″ widescreen – so how does it shape up in use?

Setup & In-Car Installation

First-time use of the Mio required us to enter a product key, but after that it was ready to roll.

Build quality seemed reasonably good and the windscreen mounting bracket fastened easily and strongly to the windscreen with a simple suction pad and lever arrangement.

The power cable clips into the base of the holder, after which the sat nav slides into the holder and connects to the power cable.

The whole arrangement seems a little dated compared to the system used by TomTom but works just as well – if anything, it’s more intuitive.

Route Entry & Mapping

The Mio software was easy and intuitive to use – in true male fashion, I did not look at the manual before taking it for a test drive but had no problem navigating around the different functions and entering a route. The address entry system is fast and easy to use and was accurate for our test destinations.

For my money, the interface is not quite as idiot-proof and slick as that of the Tom Tom One, but it is good nonetheless.

My biggest criticism is of the map browsing feature, which did not provide enough detail. Street level mapping in town was good, but if you tried to zoom out to get a wider view of an area, all the detail disappeared. Large towns were marked as grey areas with no names and villages were usually completely missing from the map.

I tried different levels of zoom and could not find a solution to this – while the street maps were good, the wider area maps were next to useless.

For me, this would mean that I’d have to carry a paper road atlas in the car as well – I am not the kind of driver who will blindly follow my sat nav anywhere without having any idea of where I am going.

The Mio (like most sat navs, to be honest), is no substitute for a paper map (or Google Maps) if you actually want to look at a map.

While Driving – Directions & Re-Routing

Mio Spirit 485 sat nav review
Not much detail in the North Yorkshire countryside, but the routing was accurate and when re-routing, the Mio chose the alternative routes I wanted (click for larger image)

Driving with the Spirit 485 was easy and trouble-free. Directions were generally accurate and easy to understand and re-routing was usually fast and seamless.

This Mio model includes TomTom’s IQ Routes service, which uses data gathered from thousands of other sat nav users to identify the least congested (fastest) routes at different times of day.

The area I was in (North Yorkshire) was not congested enough for the IQ Routes functionality to come into its own, but I am sure it would be worth having in busier areas of the UK.

The Mio’s speed alert feature works well, without being too intrusive if forget to slow down for a 30 limit. The current speed limit is displayed on screen by default and this was always accurate to within a few metres while I was using it.

The sound output of the Mio is good – I left it on the default setting and even with window down at 60mph, it was still audible and clear, without being overly loud at other times.

The screen is reasonably large at 4.3″ and remained easy to read in bright sunlight, although the colours seemed slightly washed out compared to some units I have used.

Simple Motoring Says:

Pros: At the time of writing, the Mio Spirit 485 is available for £80-£90 online. For this money, it seems excellent value – it has a decent-sized 4.3″ widescreen and a comprehensive feature set, including TomTom’s well-regarded IQ Routes system, lane guidance and parking assistance, which highlights nearby parking spaces to your destination.

For most users, it’s hard to see why you would need anything more than this Mio.

Cons: Map browsing feature is not very useful.

Find out more about Mio sat navs and GPS software on Mio’s website.

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