Peugeot may have recently tied the knot with Fiat Chrysler in a merger called Stellantis, but Peugeot has had deals with all sorts of automakers for ages. Toyota and Peugeot have been making vans together in France since 2012 and they installed a fairly novel modern radio for it, by the looks of it.
In the United Kingdom, Toyota sells its version of the van as the Proace City in three available trims: the base Active compact van and a compact- and medium-length Icon trim with updated features. The radio I’m interested in comes on the base Proace City Active, which is what I spotted on Twitter from CJ Hubbard, vans and pickups editor at Parkers.co.uk.
Check out this sweet, modern take on a “retro” radio stack found in the van’s dashboard:
Hubbard is testing this Proace City Active against the Volkswagen Caddy Cargo van available in the UK. According to the Twitter thread, so far the Toyota is notably quieter inside!
That’s great to hear, because I really want to try out this awesome little modern radio stack these companies have packaged on this base model. The Active infotainment features includes two speakers in the main cab, a USB and aux-in connector, Bluetooth Connectivity, Europe’s Digital Audio Broadcast (DAB) radio network capability and Toyota’s MyT connected services, according to Toyota’s UK website.
The City Active is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder producing a claimed 56 kilowatts, or roughly 76 horsepower, and the whole van weighs at least 1,320 kilograms, or about 2,910 pounds before you stuff it. That all sounds like a perfectly commercial deal, radio included, for a starting price of £22,510, or $31,300 U.S. at current exchange rates.
What’s really fun is that the Toyota Aygo, which starts at just under 13,000 in the UK, even gets a touchscreen still. So to have a relatively new-looking effort at a basic radio stack is novel and appreciated. I wish it was available in more cars. I checked, and Peugeot’s base 108 Active hatchback in the UK even comes with a 7-inch touch-screen. The level of quality simplicity on display in the Proace Active is a luxury, to some. If this were Porsche, they would probably charge you more for the lower-profile radio.
Upgrading to the Icon compact trim for a starting price of £24,910 also throws out the slick minimalist radio stack for a 8-inch touchscreen unit.
I’m struggling to think of a similar simple radio setup in a modern car in North America that looks this good. The Ford Transit comes standard with a 4.2-inch screen and the Ram ProMaster van comes with a 5-inch touchscreen standard. The current Mazda 3 looks great inside and has a similarly linear, screen-less and straightforward approach to the radio controls, out of design principle.
But a simple, sleek radio is great for a lot of reasons. Workers driving vans don’t need to touch screens. They’re working! That’s what buttons are for. The throwback button radio is also likely more reliable, better for gloved hands, and arguably less distracting.