Blaupunkt TravelPilot Lucca 5.3 Review

Blaupunkt may be better known for its speaker and car stereo systems but its TravelPilot range of GPS mobile navigation systems sport some neat innovations. Here Best4Reviews tests the company’s high-end Lucca 5.3.

The Blaupunkt TravelPilot Lucca 5.3 is one of the bulkiest GPS systems I’ve had to review when attached to its sucker-cup fixed post or “cradle’ as Blaupunkt call it. The whole ensemble sticks onto your windscreen; the post has dual articulations with locking lugs and a clip on bracket that can detach from the post and the Lucca and hence that extra bulk.

The device is rather stylish with a nice (but unresponsive compared to other competing GPS models) 4.3-inch touch sensitive screen and blue on/off button that splits volume up and volume down controls. 

Various clear and simple to use menu screens provide an array of options which include shortest, fastest and most economic route calculation settings, the latter is a great idea with fuel prices going through the roof and if you consider your car’s carbon footprint and this optimal route calculation combines the fastest and shortest route data.

There’s a clever voice recognition system for destination and route planning that can recognise voice commands and it works rather well, but the voice command activation is buried within menus, making it less convenient to use than, say, a hard button on the bodywork.

Adding to that gripe is the menu buttons are quite small particularly when entering postcodes and addresses, plus the letters and numbers are split across two separate menus, so slowing entry down further.

Other kit includes ports for headphones, an SD/MMC slot for additional map installation or for picture, music and video play back via the Lucca’s natty built-in media player. Other sockets include one for mains charger power input (or the supplied car power adapter) and there are USB and serial port connections. The former provides a PC link for use with Microsoft’s ActiveSync software. A small reset button lurks on the underneath as well and the cover for the system’s rechargeable battery pack, which graces the back.

The actual mapping covers the whole of Western Europe, 40 countries no less, all pre-flashed onto the Lucca’s 2GB of internal memory plus you can you download periodical updates from Blaupunkt to keep the maps fresh. Bluetooth functionality provides hands free phone capability or play media files stored on the phone.

“Pairing” the Lucca with a phone is straightforward enough and then calling or receiving calls or streaming of music, say, can commence. However, manual entry of phone numbers requires stopping the car to make a call.

Voice recognition works but you need to speak s l o w l y and clearly for both route planning and voice control, the other big selling point for the Lucca 5.3. However, features such as the excellent bright m=icon driven menus and the glare free 4.3-inch screen make using the device in brighter conditions easy.

The neat TMC system provides information on any traffic delays on your route (once correctly tuned in) and driver assist functions include a display of the speed limits with an audio alert to back it up as well, so it will help keep you on the right side of the law too, well traffic laws at any rate.

A Merian Scout travel guide is built in too and this provides information on places of interest (over 100,000 of then according to Blaupunkt) with direct dialing telephone numbers to them all, a great feature and one sure to be useful when on your holiday travels.

In short, the TravelPilot Lucca 5.3 is choc full of features and clever kit, but I have a couple of gripes. Maps don’t show road names and the female voice used by the system to inform you of directions is sometimes stilted, mechanical and hard to understand.

Also, it has an odd habit of finishing your guidance before you arrive at your destination. This is most disconcerting after having been so well hand held for the rest of the journey. Another oddity is a distance guide at a turning or junction replaces the map with a large graphic representation of the junction or turning as you approach a junction and at about a distance of 300m.

Constant voice commands and a clever distance scale counting down to your turning certainly help, but the voice commands get naggingly annoying and while the distance scale is a welcome addition, I’d prefer it overlaid on the map as well. This might simply be a psychological glitch in me, but it’d feel more reassured with both the map and scale and loose some of the nagging.

Verdict: 
The Blaupunkt TravelPilot Lucca 5.3 carries it’s high-end status well, but comes in at a hefty price tag of around £350 (SRP), though as always, shopping around you will find it for less. It’s too bulky for my liking too and while the thing can do an awful lot of other stuff, and be of great help in terms of points of interest, traffic warnings and traffic camera warnings, I can’t help feeling the price is simply too steep for it to make a big impact.