Best self-parking cars

Look, no hands: the best self-parking cars

BuyaCar team
Dec 3, 2021

Does the thought of parking in an unfamiliar space makes you anxious? The thought of damaging those shiny new alloy wheels, scraping another car or knocking that awkwardly placed bollard can be overwhelming sometimes.

Thankfully, technology can come to the rescue, so you won't have to spend time and fuel driving around in circles until you find the perfect parking bay. Self-parking can help identify a suitable space and park the car expertly every time.

Precise sensors take the guesswork out of trying to judge if your car can really fit in that gap or not, and you can sit and relax as the wheel twirls automatically from side to side.

You won't have to buy a Bentley to enjoy this feeling of relief either; self-parking systems are now so common it can be enjoyed in everything from an affordable supermini to a giant SUV. Most systems take over the steering as you gently accelerate and brake, but some models will take care of the whole process. In a few, you don't even have to be sitting in the car.

Best self-parking cars

1. Ford Fiesta

The best self-parking car for getting in AND out of spaces

Used Ford Fiesta deals from £9,598
Monthly finance from £158*
Cost of self-parking system from £300

The latest Ford Fiesta is one of the best small cars on the road. It’s great to drive and now more spacious and safer than ever. It has also benefited from a major technology upgrade.

The car’s active parking system, available as an optional extra for every trim level except ST, doesn’t just get you into a space, it will steer you out as well. This is particularly handy if you come back to your car to find an inconsiderate motorist has parked a few inches away from your front bumper.

The Fiesta’s system works in bay or parallel parking spaces and controls the steering. You operate the clutch, throttle and brake, following audible warnings and instructions on the information screen on when to reverse, stop or shuffle forward.

Called Active Park Assist, and fitted as part of Ford's Parking Pack, it costs £300 on Vignale models, £400 for Titanium, Active and ST-Line versions and £600 for the entry-level Trend.

FORD FIESTA BUYERS' GUIDE

2. Nissan Leaf

The best self-parking car for hand- and foot-free operation

Nissan Leaf driving

Used Nissan Leaf deals from £19,429
Monthly finance from £283*
Cost of self-parking system £795

If you’re one of the many drivers who are nervous at the thought of a car steering itself to park, then look away now.
Nissan’s Propilot Park technology takes over the entire operation, seizing control of the accelerator and brake for completely autonomous parking in both bay and parallel spaces.

It could mean an end to all parking scrapes - if you trust Nissan’s technology. If not, then you’ll be reassured to know that the car won’t move unless a button by the gear lever is being held down. Take your finger away mid-manoeuvre and the car will immediately pause its manoeuvre.

At the moment, Propilot Park is available on the Nissan Leaf and is expected to become available on other automatic Nissan models soon. Given the £795 price of this option, it’s likely that only those who detest parking will think it worthwhile.

NISSAN LEAF BUYERS' GUIDE

3. Mercedes C-Class

The best self-parking car for no added costs

Used Mercedes C-Class deals from £13,799
Monthly finance from £221*
Cost of self-parking system £0

Why does the C-Class outsell the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series in the UK? Could it be because the latest model comes as standard with an active parking system?

After all, what driver wants to be handed the keys to their brand new Mercedes only to get a few miles down the road and tarnish one of its smart alloy wheels or scrape paint off the corner of a bumper?

Activated at a touch of a button on the dashboard, the Active Parking Assist system can determine when a space is large enough for the C-Class to fit. It then takes care of parallel and perpendicular manoeuvres, controlling the steering while leaving the acceleration and braking to the driver. It was optional on older models produced before the mid-2018 update.

MERCEDES C-CLASS BUYERS' GUIDE

4. Tesla Model 3

Best self-parking car for regular improvements

Used Tesla Model 3 deals from £38,000
Monthly finance from £540*
Cost of self-parking system
£3,400

The vision sounds improbably futuristic: you arrive at your destination, hop out of your car, press a button on your smartphone, and your Tesla will trundle off to a free parking space and reverse itself in.

The reality is a little bit more down to earth, but still impressive. The Summon function on Tesla's Model 3 (as well as the Model X and S) enables the car to drive itself into or out of a garage or parking space.

It's controlled with a smartphone app when the driver is outside the car, or with in-car buttons if you're inside. You need to keep pressing a button on the app or in the car during the manoeuvre: releasing it will cause the car to stop instantly.

Tesla also offers Smart Summon, which adds the ability to navigate more complex environments, enabling the car to drive itself out of a space and (slowly) through a car park to the location of the phone. The car will need the Enhanced Autopilot package though: at a cost of £3,400 from new.

5. BMW 5 Series

The best self-parking car for multi-storey car parks

Used BMW 5 Series deals from £15,088
Monthly finance from £275*
Cost of self-parking system £0

BMW’s Parking Assistant can scan both sides of the road to find a suitable parking space, and it's standard for the BMW 5 Series. Once a large enough spot is found, it will be displayed on the screen. Stop the car, indicated in the direction of the space, and hold down the Parking Assistant button to tell the car to park automatically.

It also has an interesting feature called 'Reversing Assistant', which can memorise the last 50m as you drive forwards at up to 22mph, and then exactly follow the same path but in reverse.

It's also possible to add Parking Assistant Plus, which fits the car with additional cameras to provide a better view all around the car.

BMW 5 SERIES BUYERS' GUIDE

6. Volvo XC60

The best self-parking car for tight parallel parking

Used Volvo XC60 deals from £15,995
Monthly finance from £294*
Cost of self-parking system from £1,800

As stylish as the Volvo XC60 might be, the luxurious family SUV feels big on the road and even bigger when the time comes to find a parking space at the side of the road or in a busy supermarket car park.

Don’t stress about it, says Volvo. The latest XC60, launched in 2017, can be fitted with Park Assist Pilot, the self-parking system that can guide you into a bay that’s only 20% larger than the car. Like most systems, it measures the size of the space using ultrasonic sensors, and the driver then reverses into the chosen parking space, controlling the accelerator and brake as the XC60’s steering wheel spins precisely to park the car safely.

However, it’s disappointing that it can only be fitted as part of a pack that includes an opening panoramic sunroof and 360-degree cameras, taking the price to a hefty price, while it’s standard on a similarly priced car like the Mercedes C-Class.

VOLVO XC60 BUYERS' GUIDE

7. DS 3 Crossback

Best self-parking car for ease of use

Used DS 3 Crossback deals from £16,976
Monthly finance from £246*
Cost of self-parking system TBC

Citroen's upmarket brand has introduced an advanced Park Pilot system for the DS 3 Crossback SUV. It will take over the steering, accelerator and brake, while the driver keeps pressing a button on the automatic gear lever.

Clear graphics show exactly what the car is doing, and what's required of the driver, which should make it one of the easiest systems to use.

DS 3 CROSSBACK BUYERS' GUIDE

8. Volkswagen Golf

The best self-parking car for smooth manoeuvring

Used Volkswagen Golf deals from £9,624
Monthly finance from £182*
Cost of self-parking system £600

If you want a sensible, well-priced family hatchback that can park itself, you can confidently order a Golf, without too much research.

Any Golf can be ordered with the optional Park Assist system, which is reasonably priced at £200. Like others here, it can detect a parking space and take over the steering to guide the driver smoothly into parallel, perpendicular or even diagonal bays. The accelerator, clutch and brake are managed by you.

However, it's a shame Volkswagen isn't offering it as standard on mid-level trims, as it’s included free of charge on certain versions of the Nissan Qashqai.

2020-PRESENT VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

2013-2020 VOLKSWAGEN GOLF BUYERS' GUIDE

*Representative PCP finance - Ford Fiesta:

48 monthly payments of £192
Deposit: £0
Mileage limit: 8,000 per year
Optional final payment to buy car: £2,923
Total amount payable to buy car: £11,926
Total cost of credit: £2,426
Amount borrowed: £9,500
APR: 9.9%

BuyaCar is a credit broker, not a lender. Our rates start from 6.9% APR. The rate you are offered will depend on your individual circumstances.

 

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