It took a different route from the taxi, guiding us along the A316 to the A4, over the Hammersmith flyover, through heavy traffic at the Natural History Museum and onwards to Knightsbridge. And then, having been alerted to traffic farther along the planned route, at 11.17 guided us right, down Beauchamp Place, around Sloane Square and eventually to Grosvenor Road beside the Thames at 11.27. Daahir couldn’t use the bus lanes but, even so, we eventually crossed Lambeth Bridge, dived around the Park Plaza and made Waterloo station in good time.
Back to Richmond, where we piled into my 2006-reg Vauxhall Astra equipped with state-of-the-art Garmin DriveSmart 61 Europe LMT-D sat-nav complete with lifetime map updates for the UK and Europe, digital traffic alerts, live parking information and built-in wi-fi (price: £249.95).
I tapped the destination postcode into the beautifully clear 6.95in screen and, at 13.04, headed in the direction of the A316, as indicated. It was a re-run of Daahir’s approach but as I drove, the Garmin invited me to select faster routes as it identified congestion. Thus it was that, at 13.36, we found ourselves curling around Hyde Park Corner and down Constitution Hill into what we feared would be the tourist trap of Birdcage Walk, Parliament Square and Westminster Bridge. But the Garmin was right and, by 13.51, we were slipping past the Park Plaza.
The results panel below explains which mode was the quickest but the taxi driver’s ability to make good time, given the hour and the scarcity not only of bus lanes but clear ones too, was impressive.
The Garmin sat-nav benefited from a clearer run into London and, once in the capital, demonstrated an impressive ability to spot trouble and re-route around it.
The Uber experience was smooth and great value for money. Which has the biggest brain? Pass...
The Garmin/car combination wins. However, despite its ability to re-route, it’s unlikely to have fared so well at rush hour when a taxi can exploit bus lanes (assuming they’re free of buses) to make progress. The Uber cab’s sat-nav was also recalculating the route and forecast an arrival time shortly into the ride of 11.40, which fluctuated around three minutes shorter or longer as we travelled.
Given the hour of day, the taxi’s victory over the Uber cab, and just four minutes behind the Garmin, is impressive, if a tad expensive by comparison.