Sat Nav Review: TomTom GO LIVE Top Gear Edition (GO Live 820)

TomTom GO LIVE Top Gear Edition startup screenDisclosure: TomTom 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.

TomTom’s recent launch of a Top Gear Edition sat nav featuring the voice of Jeremy Clarkson was met with instant disapproval from the BBC mothership, resulting in a premature end to the unit’s planned production run.

Despite this, 54,000 of the TopGear Edition GO LIVE sat navs had already been delivered to stores around the world, including Halfords, which is the only UK company selling the TomTom GO LIVE Top Gear Edition.

The unit in question is based on a TomTom GO LIVE 820 and as such sits fairly high in TomTom’s sat nav range. I recently managed to borrow one from TomTom for a review – so how was it?

TomTom GO LIVE Top Gear Edition – £179.99 (only available at Halfords)

The sat nav itself is a 4.3″ widescreen model with a tasteful, stylish matt black case. The front panel around the screen is cross-hatched and is framed in silver, which looks smart.

As you would expect from TomTom, the unit feels good quality and benefits from TomTom’s integral mounting system – which means no tell-tale bracket left behind on your windscreen and a neat, compact and self-contained sat nav unit you can slip in your coat pocket and fit easily to any vehicle.

TomTom GO LIVE HD Traffic service
The LIVE service in action – I needed to find some traffic jams

This model comes from TomTom’s GO LIVE range and benefits from a built-in SIM card which gives you access to TomTom’s LIVE services.

The first year’s subscription is included – after that, it costs £47.50/year, for which you get:

  • HD Traffic – live traffic updates every two minutes and real-time rerouting suggestions so you can avoid traffic
  • Real-time mobile speed camera locations (including reports from other users)
  • Google Local Search – provides a far wider range of local business and other POIs than a standard sat nav POI file
  • Weather forecast – get the weather at your destination

Although the weather forecast is of limited use, the other three LIVE services are very good and will be useful for drivers who do spend a lot of time on the road.

I was a bit disappointed to find that despite the premium price, this model only comes with maps for UK & Ireland – European maps are not included.

In Use – Driving With Jeremy Clarkson

The Top Gear connection is obvious when you switch this unit on – the splash screen and shutdown screen are both Top Gear images and the default voice is that of Jeremy Clarkson.

However, I have to admit that as much as I like watching Top Gear, Clarkson really got on my nerves after about 10 minutes driving through town. The other disadvantage of using his voice is that the TomTom’s excellent text-to-speech service, which reads out street names rather than telling you take ‘the next left’, only works with the unit’s computer-generated voice.

Using the computer-generated voice has other advantages too. As well as spoken street names, you can choose to have other information (like motorway lane directions) read out to you instead of just displayed on the screen. This is definitely useful and a good safety feature.

Routing & Navigation

As you would expect from a TomTom, the GO LIVE Top Gear Edition’s routing and navigation directions were good. The interface was simple and clear to use, although technophobes might prefer the ultimate simplicity of the TomTom Start2 I reviewed earlier this year.

TomTom GO LIVE navigation
Mapping and directions were clear and accurate on the Top Gear TomTom

On one or two occasions when driving through town, the TomTom routed me through a slightly obscure side road rather than taking the normal route.

This didn’t cause any problems, but I am not sure whether this was just a quirk of the route-planning software or the HD Traffic service in action – the routes were side roads I might take to avoid traffic at busy times.

Overall, this sat nav worked very well and was easy to use. The sound was clear and the screen had good contrast, good sensitivity to touch commands and was plenty bright enough, even on a sunny day.

Voice Commands

The TomTom GO LIVE Top Gear Edition accepts voice commands for certain functions. I did not use this while driving, but when stationary I found it worked very well.

My destination details were understood correctly and I did not need to raise or change my voice. My passenger was also able to issue commands, too. The voice command system seemed slightly better than that on the Navigon 70 Premium which I reviewed at the beginning of this year.

Final Thoughts

The TomTom GO LIVE Top Gear Edition is a high quality sat nav with a wide feature range that works very well. It is well suited to high mileage use and its HD Traffic and other mobile data features are a useful addition.

Pros:
Good routing, spoken street names,  HD Traffic, nice screen, stylish design.

Cons:
Lack of Europe maps is disappointing at this price, Top Gear stuff is pretty pointless. Recessed USB port means you cannot use a standard USB cable, you have to use the supplied cable.

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