We review cars before we buy them based on many factors. Performance, handling, fuel economy, fit for purpose, status, style – there are many influencing factors that lead to the final decision to hand over enormous quantities of cash for the privilege of being able to get from point A to point B – one of those fundamental human freedoms we enjoy (thus far at least).
These days however as tech becomes more immersive what degree of influence does something as simple as a touch screen infotainment module have over our purchasing decisions?
I have to tell you that for me it’s way bigger than I think I’d be prepared to admit. After all, for the next few years you are going to be using this almost every day and in my case, several times a day. If it annoys me mildly at the beginning the chances that it will enrage me in the months to come are substantial.
A personal annoyance then is that after spending several hundred thousand rands on a vehicle to find the infotainment system as an after thought bolted on haphazardly and specced as cheaply as possible to get away with “being seen to be having it”.
Adding insult to injury is a clunky and slow interface, with chunky resolution, slow refresh rates and the brightness of a glowworm in a jam jar on a bright summers day.
I don’t accept that from my mobile – why would I take it from my car?
And so it is that in the most unlikely of places we find some surprisingly good video tech – slap bang in the Peugeot LandTrek – their new bakkie of all places. It comes in the form of a 10” touch screen display that I have no specification on whatsoever. It LOOKS to be an OLED type display but that’s a pure guess. Aspect ratio is unknown but correct (because it fits the space better than most).
Refresh rates are a pleasing Who Knows What but are fast enough that there is no jitter or stalling. What’s important here is that the video is smooth and pleasingly high res where it needs to be. Clearly the onboard cameras also have to be up to the task and if we ever manage to dig the specs upon them we’ll post them here.
Brightness of the display is a yet to be quantified quantum. But I would guess this one is up on the high end. Brightness is important in cars, ermm, I mean bakkies, because a) the displays tend to get dusty and fingerprinty and b) the sun position moves considerably more than it does when at home or in the office.
This display will operate well in full sunlight with minimal glare. This means no squinting in trying to see where your next turn is coming up or which artist happens to be streaming on your favourite music service. It’s safety first after all.
If it is a safety angle that we must tug on to make sure other manufacturers improve their displays then tug away we shall. Screens like the Landtrek’s offering annoy because when you have been exposed to them, downgrading to lesser offerings is depressing.
The screen works particularly well when using the 3D camera mode which is standard on the bigger version of the bakkie. Here the fast refresh rates and crisp smooth high res imagery from the cameras does help you to see what’s happening on the outside of the vehicle with a quick glance as opposed to a long stare (which can be expensive if you mistake a large rock for a shadow). Colour saturation is equally impressive and this might help a bit with the 2d flatness that these systems typically offer. They are great but they battle to show depth, meaning you need to be careful that the rock you are driving over is not in fact sticking out a foot higher (or lower) than it appears to be on the screen.
The system itself is also fast – clicking on the screen to change the choice of camera being displayed is almost instantaneous, without too much screen sensitivity required – meaning you can normally get the angle you want even when being tossed from side to side in the bakkie whilst on the move over rough terrain in full 4×4 mode. In normal operation the touch screen is responsive, intuitive and just as fast. It feels durable and gives the impression of being future proof for a good long while.
I unfortunately didn’t get time to experience the aural aspect to the Peugeot. What I can say is that the cabin noise is low for a bakkie which is a good start. Ride at cruising speeds is smoothed out as opposed to the bumpiness at low speeds meaning that longer trips ought to have a decent base from which to play music at a reasonable level of delivery. We shall have to wait and find out if we get to grips with it.