There’s a bit to talk about when it comes to the infotainment system in the 2017 Peugeot 308 Active.
That’s because the car’s 9.7-inch touchscreen media system, which sits proudly atop an otherwise sparse centre stack, controls a lot of aspects of this French small car.
There may be a few switches, such as the recirculation button below the screen, but all your temperature adjustments have to be made through the Peugeot 308's media system. That’s right – if you want a bit more fan speed, or if the air conditioning has got its groove on and is now doing too good of a job, you can’t just adjust it by way of a switch or dial. But, there are de-mist buttons for the front and rear glass, and there's an air recirculation button on the centre console.
For example; you might be driving along an unfamiliar road, paying attention to the sat nav instructions, and then you realise you can’t concentrate because you’d turned the fan up to de-fog your car when you got in. Now the fan is blowing blazing heat out, and you’re flustered because you’re trying to get to that important appointment, and you realise you can’t just quickly twist a knob to lower the temperature or the fan speed.
Instead, you’ll have to remember which hieroglyph on the edge of the screen refers to the temperature settings, then you’ll have to wait a second for the screen to load, then you’ll frantically hit the illustrated buttons on the screen and wait for the fan speed to drop and the temperature to decrease. All of this will take a good 10 seconds, where it would have taken maybe two seconds if you’d just had a couple of good old-fashioned knobs.
And on those hieroglyphs, the annoying thing is the quick buttons you use most regularly are on the far side of the screen – and some shorter drivers might not feel comfortable attempting to reach that far across when they're driving. My partner is one such example, and she reckons that, and the fiddly nature of the screen overall, is enough to rule out the Peugeot 308 as a potential purchase for her next car.
The load time conundrum isn’t specific to the climate controls, either. This isn’t a screen powered by an ultra-fast processor, and that means you’ll find yourself waiting for it to switch between screens for a lot longer than you would in vehicles with better media systems – a few that come to mind include the Volkswagen Golf and Subaru Impreza.
Over our time in the car we found the Bluetooth connectivity to be decent, at least. It re-couples with your smartphone relatively rapidly, and the call clarity was fine. It could get a bit confused if there were calls in quick succession, or even if you had a call waiting – at times it didn't divert those calls to Bluetooth.
In a world where smartphones are becoming more and more integral to day-to-day life, we found ourselves missing the extended connectivity of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, which you can get in pretty much all of the 308’s mainstream competitors apart from the Toyota Corolla and Mazda 3.
At least the lack of those smartphone mirroring apps means there’s less reliance on mobile data plans for mapping, and we found the 308’s sat nav system to be quite easy to use and easy and to follow for the most part. The small instructions at the base of the display can be confusing on multi-lane roads, but we didn't get properly lost at all.
There are steering wheel-mounted audio controls – one roller for the volume, the other to change the station – so if you like to flick between your favourite channels on the way to work, at least you don’t have to muck around with menus to do that. And while many touchscreen systems have now done away with a CD player, there’s a slot on the centre console in the Pug.
The display also acts as a monitor for the car’s rear-view camera, and – as we’ve mentioned already – it can be laggy to load. There have been numerous instances where I’ve jumped in the car, started it up, chucked on my seatbelt, put it in reverse and pulled out of my driveway before the screen has even booted up. It’s a bit frustrating if you’re in a rush, but thankfully there’s no lag for the car’s rear parking sensors! Even worse, on a few occasions when reversing down unfamiliar streets, the camera display dropped out completely. (I was using my mirrors, too, you guys).
On the whole, the 2017 Peugeot 308 Active’s infotainment system could be a deal-breaker. If you’re the type of person who likes to adjust the temperature a lot and you’re also the type of person who is perpetually lost and relying on sat nav, this could be a nightmare for you.
But if you’re only using the car for commuting, just leave the screen on the climate controls, and you may find it to be easy enough to live with in the long run.