head-up display in a car
Laura Henley

Laura Henley

Laura is a Digital Copywriter in our (award-winning) marketing team, tasked with keeping you up to date with all the latest industry news and gossip. With a wealth of experience under her belt, there's no one better to keep you entertained and informed.

Read time of 3 minutes.

Head-Up Displays: What are they?

With a long line of aviation history, head-up display technology has been adapted for use in our cars to make everyday driving easier and safer

Ever looked away from the road to look at your phone?

The temptation to take your eyes off the road is a serious problem. Anything that takes your attention away from the road or hands off the wheel can increase the chance of an accident.

In 2020, there were 17 deaths and 499 injuries in the UK as a result of car accidents where the driver was using a mobile phone.

Whether you need to check your phone to read a text or change your music playlist, trying to multi-task while you drive is dangerous.

A head-up display (HUD) system is designed to keep your ‘head up’ and eyes on the road while driving. It helps you see all the information you need while driving in one place, in front of your eyes.

But if you didn’t know what a HUD is and how it’s used in a car, read on to find out if it’s worth considering for your next lease car.

driver on phone

History of the Head-Up Display

It may seem innovative and futuristic, but they’re not new technology. In fact, they’ve been around since the 1950s for fighter planes to display altitude, speed and targeting systems.

Head-up displays continued to be developed for aircrafts and they caught the attention of the auto manufacturer, General Motors, who imagined how it could be used in cars.

The first rough plans of equipping a car with a HUD system came about in 1965 by designers at General Motors, but due to complexity and cost, it wasn’t until 1988 that the first car to have a head-up display, the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, was launched. It projected a speedometer and turn-signal indicators.

This was after General Motors bought an Aircraft company which helped the automaker explore innovative areas and granted them an extensive range of HUD-related knowledge.

instrument cluster

What kind of information does a Head-Up Display show?

  • Speedometer

Allowing you to keep an eye on your speed to avoid driving too fast.

  • GPS navigation

Know how long of your journey you’ve got left, how far to go and every direction.

  • Notifications from your phone

There’s no need to glance at your phone. See texts and know who’s calling you.

  • Real-time driving data

See data like your MPG, outside temperature, warning signals, fuel gauge and battery charge in a flash.

  • Assist with vision impairment

If driving in fog or snow for example, a HUD system will use cameras and GPS to locate the car in front and display an image of it on your windshield.

Why should you lease a car with Head-Up Display?

Like with any safety feature, a HUD system shouldn’t be relied on solely to prevent an accident. But the clever feature comes with a lot of benefits and makes any drive safer, more dynamic and exciting.

You may find at times that all this information is a bit overwhelming, but it can be available when you need it, and you can turn it off when you don’t want it on.

It displays all the essential driver information that you’ll need on a drive, so you won’t be panicking while looking for something on your information cluster as it’ll all be in your field of view.

A split-second look at your fuel gauge or speedometer could be enough to cause an accident, especially if you’re travelling at a higher speed. A HUD would solve this problem and help reduce the risk of an accident.

Another safety benefit is that you’ll be able to follow your sat nav directions more easily. We’ve all plugged in a sat nav, taken a wrong turn and had to glance at the screen to see where we’re supposed to go. A HUD will highlight paths and display markers on your windscreen to ensure you take the right route.

Some people assume that a HUD would be extremely distracting and is more likely to cause an accident. However, it only displays key information on your windscreen, nothing detailed, so it helps you multitask in a safe way.

In recent years, this safety feature has become increasingly popular and if you think HUD systems are limited to premium vehicles, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

You’ll likely need to pay extra for a HUD. Most high-end models or trims now offer HUD as a standard, while other models will have a HUD system available as an optional extra.

Cars with Head-Up Display

If you’re thinking of car leasing and are interested in a head-up display, the following models offer the innovative feature, either as standard or as an optional feature. 

Audi: Every Prestige spec Audi offers HUD as a standard feature. For other models you’ll need to pay extra.

BMW: Standard on 7 Series, 8 Series, i7, M5, M8, X5, X6, X7, iX or it’s available as an optional extra as part of the Premium, Convenience or Executive package for other BMW models.

Genesis: Only an optional feature on their biggest turbo engines for the G70, G80 and for the Electrified GV70. Opt for the Innovation pack if you want HUD on the GV80.

Hyundai: Available on the Ultimate trim for the Kona, Ioniq 5, Ioniq 6 and Santa Fe models.

Land Rover: Standard on the Range Rover Sport, X edition for the Defender HSE, Optional feature for both the Range Rover Evoque and the Velar.

Mercedes-Benz: A-Class, C-Class, GLC, CLS = Standard on the Premium Plus trim or above. You’ll need to opt for the 4Matic+ trim if you want the GLE SUV and the 4Matic or First Class trim level for the GLS.

Volvo: Available as an optional feature with the Ultimate package for the S90, V60 Cross Country, V90 Cross Country, XC60 and XC90.

Looking for a lease car with a HUD system?