Peugeot 3008 & 5008/Focal
Focal might be best known for making high-end hi-fi for the home, but it’s also a leading supplier of aftermarket car audio systems. Now these two Peugeot SUVs are the first to come with its systems pre-installed.
In terms of bang for buck, it’s unrivalled. With 10 drivers, inverted tweeter domes, polyglass membranes for midrange drivers and woofers, and a triple-coil sub under the front seat, the results are spectacular. And costing just £590 as an optional extra, it’s a must for anyone even vaguely interested in listening to music while driving. No wonder the 3008 was awarded Car of the Year at the show.
For the new BMW 5 Series, B&W has taken the drivers from its awesome Diamond range of hi-fi speakers, along with its signature tweeters shielded by metallic grilles. No fewer than 16 speakers are arranged into a network of 10 channels that, along with some clever DSP, produce the most awesome 5.1 soundscape you’ll hear in a car.
Two subwoofers in the front footwells give it some extra oomph, and a DAC is on hand to convert digital signals to analogue sound. Both driver and passenger will even be bathed in atmospheric light, thanks to BMW’s interior lighting system. One listen, and you’ll quite literally light up.
MORE: Best DACs 2017
Alfa Romeo Giulia/Harman Kardon
Alfa Romeo has made a triumphant comeback this century, so it’s good to see it’s finally started taking in-car audio seriously. The Giulia packs 14 loudspeakers, 12 channels, and 900W of Class D amplification. The bass can be bettered elsewhere at the show, but it’s still a solid effort from Harman Kardon.
With support for hi-res audio codecs like FLAC, and both stereo and 5.1 surround sound modes, the Panamera’s system is certainly one to be reckoned with. It even has its own format made especially for it, a ridiculous 11.1 encoding – though Porsche didn’t have any files in this format to hand during its demo, so to say they’re rare would be an understatement. And the price? A mere £4,000 extra. Which is nothing when the car costs at least £68,000.
The CT6 has a ridiculous 34 drivers in its cockpit, spread over 19 separate locations. So as you can imagine, there’s no escaping the sound no matter where you sit.
However, according to US sources, the system downsamples hi-res tracks to CD or even MP3 quality. Which seems a bit masochistic to us, what with all those drivers to play with.
Beats has previously kitted out Fiats and Volkswagens, but the Ibiza is its best in-car outing yet. The sound is more lively, younger and more involving, which is a better match for the Ibiza’s target market. It may be small, but it definitely packs plenty of punch.
Lexus LC 500h & LS 500/Mark Levinson
When it comes to audio performance, these Lexuses (Lexi?) offer unfettered aggression, enormous power and astonishingly detailed, ultra-sharp rendering of transients. Sadly, nothing as gauche as specifications are available, but from our listen it definitely impresses.