Volkswagen RNS510

The RNS510's high-res screen, pleasing design, ease of use and balanced integration of entertainment and navigation, make it an excellent upgrade for any VW buyer. Shame Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity are on the options list.


8.5
CNET Rating
4.8
User Rating

About The Author

CNET Editor

Derek loves nothing more than punching a remote location into a GPS, queuing up some music and heading out on a long drive, so it's a good thing he's in charge of CNET Australia's Car Tech channel.


Availability

Priced between AU$2500 and AU$3000, the RNS510 system is an optional extra across most of Volkswagen's Australian passenger car range — notable exceptions being the Polo and New Beetle.

This review was conducted in an RNS510-equipped Mark V Jetta 147TSI. Particular aspects of the specification, such as number of speakers and standard features, may vary from model to model.

Design and interface

Visually, the RNS510 is very similar to the RCD510 system that's a standard fit to many VW models. Both are double-DIN-sized head units and have a 6.5-inch touchscreen. The more expensive RNS510, though, features a higher resolution display — 800x480 compared to the RCD510's 400x240 — as well as a television-esque 16:9 width-to-height screen ratio.

Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510

Click through for an in depth look at the Volkswagen's RNS510 system.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

The interface features no home menu screen, rather the screen is flanked by two columns of physical buttons that allow access to all of the RNS510's various functions — Radio, Media, Phone and Tone on the left flank, and Map, Nav, Traffic and Setup along the right. Keep in mind that the presence of a particular button doesn't naturally guarantee that that function is present on a particular vehicle. For example, in our Jetta the optional Bluetooth hands-free kit wasn't installed, so the Phone button acted as a mute switch instead.

Below the screen are two dials, one that's a power and volume control, and another that's used for station tuning, map zooming and the like. Beside the disc slot are left and right buttons to skip tracks and stations, as well as buttons for disc eject and instruction repeat.

Steering wheel audio controls, mounted on the left spoke, allow the driver to quickly change track, station or audio source, as well as make phone calls if Bluetooth hands-free is available. The LCD screen between the speedometer and the tachometer — multi-function display (MFD) in VW-speak — can be used to display current audio and navigation info. The MFD is manipulated by controls on the steering wheel's right spoke, and also allow basic audio functions, like track and station changing.


The resistive touchscreen not only responds accurately, but looks sharp too and is clearly visible through a pair of polarised sunnies. Only the harshest direct light is able to render it useless. Thanks to its clear text, large buttons and well designed screens, the on-screen interface is simple to use for most tasks. Do keep in mind, though, that volume settings for the navigation system lie underneath the Tone menu rather than the Setup screens.

Music and movies

In bare-bones configuration the RNS510 comes equipped with an AM/FM radio tuner, single disc slot, auxiliary jack, a 30GB hard disk and an SD card slot. A media device interface (MDI), essentially a USB port for reading flash memory drives, is an optional extra and can be found underneath the central arm rest.

A VW-specific iPod cable needs to be purchased for the media device interface to work with Apple's range of iPods, iPhones and iPads. Also on the options list is Bluetooth hands-free.

Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510

Click through for an in depth look at the Volkswagen's RNS510 system.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

The RNS510 is capable of reading MP3, AAC, Ogg Vorbis and WMA compressed music file formats from either the hard disk, CD data discs, SD cards or USB sticks. Files stored on CD and SD cards can be copied over to the unit's hard disk, with 20GB of its overall 30GB capacity set aside for music file storage.

DVD video discs are also recognised and look fantastic on the RNS510's 800x480 resolution screen. On the Jetta's 10-speaker set-up sound reproduction is excellent.

Navigation

Like the rest of the system's design, the RNS510's main map screen is clean, clear and pleasant on the eye. 3D and 2D perspectives are available, and map colours can automatically alternate between day and night schemes.

Were it not for the lack of a QWERTY keyboard, we would have no complaints about destination entry. Routes are calculated fairly briskly and while they mightn't be the quickest path from A to B, you will get to your destination eventually, primarily via main roads.

As the RNS510 is wired up to the car's sensors it doesn't lose track of your position, even in areas that would normally stump a portable GPS, like tunnels, car parks and in the heart of the central business district.

Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510Volkswagen RNS510

Click through for an in depth look at the Volkswagen's RNS510 system.
(Credit: Derek Fung/CNET Australia)

Drivers stepping up from portable nav units may be disappointed to find that the four-figure RNS510 doesn't feature text-to-speech for spoken street names. Junction view, 3D landmarks, speed limit info, red light and speed camera locations, and terrain shading, as well traffic information from Suna, are also no shows.

On the upside, though, the system will turn down your music's volume when reading out instructions, as well as showing information about the next turn in the instrument cluster's LCD display. Lane guidance is limited to main roads, as well as highways and motorways, and the lane arrows are small and can be camouflaged by other map elements.

Conclusion

Despite not being as fully featured as many entry-level portable nav units, the RNS510's high-resolution screen, pleasing design, ease of use and balanced integration of entertainment and navigation, make it an excellent upgrade for any VW buyer. Our key gripes are the presence of Bluetooth, USB and iPod connectivity on the options list.

Previous Story

BMW to support iPod Out

Car Tech
Next Story

Best FM transmitters for the car



Add Your Review 8


* Below fields optional


Post comment as
VW_GT TDI
8
Rating
 

"Could have more features and accessibility"

VW_GT TDI posted a review   
United Kingdom

The Good:Very nice to use and robust

The Bad:Too restricted

Why is the RNS510 so restricted and you cannot attach anything to it now even a simple AUX lead without buying OEM VW parts. I want to install reverse camera and that is also not simple as you have to code it aswell. This is a nice unit but you cannot do much with it as you have to buy everything from VW for over £200 pounds just to add bluetooth or MDI. This is rubish when you already pay allot of money for the unit.

Chanate1
1
Rating
 

"names streets incorrectly"

Chanate1 posted a review   
United States

The Good:big screen

The Bad:names streets incorrectly, hard to mute

We bought a 2012 Passat with this navigation system in it. It has MAJOR problems with incorrectly naming streets. Have to use a $100 Costco Garmin to get around. Have had at least a dozen calls/ trips back to the dealer. Updated it. Still doesnt work. Drove a 2013 with the same navigation system. Does the same thing. Am totally frustrated with this nav system.

 

RichardJ posted a comment   

Can any one tell me if it is worthwhile adding an aftermarket amplifier to an RNS510

Freddy
3
Rating
 

"Mediocre function and performance for a stellar price"

Freddy posted a review   

The Good:Good integration with vehicle controls and (MFD) display

The Bad:Poor high bit rate sound quality, untrustworthy navigation

This unit is disappointing for a host of reasons:
- iPod interface is not very responsive, lacks unicode (foreign) character support in the display, badly distorts mp3 audio that's encoded >128kb/s (CD's SD card mp3's are ok)
- Sound quality frequency response poorly balanced with inadequate tonal control to compensate
- Bluetooth option is utterly lame, no display or voice command function
- Navigation route defaults are simply appalling and not to be trusted; map detail also woeful regardless of zoom level
- The 800x480 display resolution is nothing to get excited about and seems very dated in its performance; hold any cheap smart phone up to it to see why.

On the plus side it is generally well integrated into the vehicle controls and MDF display.
It accepts a good range of inputs.
Radio receiver sensitivity is good (but lacks Digital Radio capability)

I think if this was 2006 I'd be more accepting of the RNS 510, but it is 2012 so I'm rather disappointed in its failings.

Rudolph
7
Rating
 

Rudolph posted a review   

The Good:Clear screen

The Bad:Reduced functionality, No WMA. Expensive Maps

I'm not sure where the reviewer got their specs. My RNS-510, fitted by the dealer, will not allow transfer from SD to the HDD, and so far as I can determine It will only allow Audio CD transfer to the HDD.

WMA support was removed when the software update was applied by the dealership.

If you want upgrades to maps, they are expensive, and updates are not included at all with the initial purchase. I have found myself up a few farmer's lanes when adhering to the directions of the GPS. This meant I had to call my clients on each ocaission and seek correct directions, often well off the proper path.

The original unit had many glitches, it took a lot of visits to the dealer before they were allowed to replace the unit for me. I had issues with it not muting/pausing from the steering wheel. The new unit seems fine now, other than the previous mentioned issues.

All in all I like the integration features, but honestly I think there are cheaper alternatives out there with similar functionality.

 

Big Gus posted a comment   

Great Product, brilliant sound (I have in a Touareg - I installed myself), superb Bluetooth (even though it is an option it works brilliantly on ALL phones we have tried). SD Card plus HDD capacity give more music than you would ever need............Nav works a treat.

 

deltatango posted a comment   
Australia

Wow! $2.5K - $3K is a bargain, compared to the 'AVN' System for Subarus. That'll cost you $4500!! And Bluetooth is still optional on top of THAT. And the Subaru system doesn't have SD card input or a HDD. Add to that, the fact that VW is European and Euro is usually more expensive than Japanese and this is cheap! Looks like a great bit of kit too.

 

team_v posted a reply   

You can have a genuine one for $1150 off ebay, then it's a self install and $50 vagcom change fee and you have the same system with enough to add bluetooth and MDI for under $2k.




Sponsored Links
CNET's latest

User Reviews / Comments  Volkswagen RNS510

  • VW_GT TDI

    VW_GT TDI

    Rating8

    "Why is the RNS510 so restricted and you cannot attach anything to it now even a simple AUX lead without buying OEM VW parts. I want to install reverse camera and that is also not simple as you have..."

  • Chanate1

    Chanate1

    Rating1

    "We bought a 2012 Passat with this navigation system in it. It has MAJOR problems with incorrectly naming streets. Have to use a $100 Costco Garmin to get around. Have had at least a dozen calls/..."

  • RichardJ

    RichardJ

    "Can any one tell me if it is worthwhile adding an aftermarket amplifier to an RNS510"

CNET Speedtest

Recently Viewed Products