Staring into that digital binnacle, you see crisp blue navigation arrows drawing you through a 3D animation of the cityscape outside your car’s windows. It’s high-tech stuff, surely from Audi or Merc? Nope, this is the human-machine interface that’ll be standard on this autumn’s new Peugeot 3008.
It’s the third generation of Peugeot’s i-Cockpit theme, and a game-changer that builds on earlier iterations’ principles of a small steering wheel and purging switches for an omnipotent touchscreen. Trouble was, the touchscreen’s tiny buttons were more distant than your estranged wife, and about as speedy in responding to your demands. Here’s how v3 moves the game on:
1) Digital binnacle: It’s alive!
The 3008’s 12.3-inch binnacle is divided into three areas, with drivers able to configure how and what info is displayed in the left, central and right portions.
The outer sections typically show info on speed, revs and fuel/engine, leaving the centre to relay the 3D nav map, or a crisp, colourful, cruise control graphic relaying how far you are from the car in front.
2) Two screens to tango
Whereas the Audi TT’s virtual cockpit relies on a single digital binnacle, Peugeot’s system has a supplementary 8in central screen. So if the 3008’s binnacle is relaying nav, the central screen can display another function, say music or Apple CarPlay. That two-screen approach is similar to the new E-class’s.
The system can be controlled by voice commands (you can dictate texts), or prod the screen with three fingers to surface Peugeot’s homepage, to access all functions in one place.
3) Buttons are back!
While gen2 i-Cockpit nigh on eliminated physical switches, Peugeot has helpfully restored the essentials, giving drivers a shortcut to key functions, such as radio/climate/nav/phone.
Other buttons access apps and car settings, to toggle park assist and active cruise settings. And, in a deliciously French way, one button controls cabin ambience, tickling senses via mood lighting, fragrance diffuser and seat massaging.
4) Final flourishes
Other features? That trench beside the gear selector can induction-charge your phone. And the graphical animations that signal a transition from one function to another are beautiful – they’re the work of Gilles Vidal’s design team. Let’s hope the processor is sufficiently powerful for swift and smooth operation.
All this embodies our ‘move upmarket strategy,’ says Peugeot’s Edouard Bergevin. ‘It was a tough decision to make this standard, but we don’t think there’s another car maker that can match it.’
Read more from the June 2016 issue of CAR magazine