We often judge a car's appeal by its exterior design, yet we spend a lot more time looking at their interiors. The Cars.co.za team put their heads together to identify the new cars that boast the most pleasing cabins. What are yours?
Interiors are difficult to judge as it is arguably more important that they are functional and comfortable than a work of art. On the other hand, there’s nothing worse than a dashboard that looks terrific but is built with scratchy materials and large panel gaps. The German manufacturers have honed their craft to a stage where they dominate the quality and refinement side of things.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, then, the German brands dominate our list of top interiors for 2016 (thus far), but keep an eye on the likes of Volvo and Lexus - both are producing some excellent work at the moment. In Volvo’s case, the XC90's cabin design and functionality place it near the top of the pile. Lexus maintains its strength in build quality and attention to detail but maybe lacks a little in the ease-of-use and functionality departments.
Take a look at our choices below but don’t be shy to comment and let us know what interiors you think are the best in the business.
The Passat sits in a declining segment in South Africa. It’s a pity as the Passat is an all-around excellent car. If you specify the optional Active Info display, the instrument cluster turns digital but is impressively crisp and vibrant. The full-width air vents are a great design feature too and makes the cabin feel wider. The shut lines are tight and the overall feel is sophisticated and premium.
Audi probably leads the game when it comes to interiors and the TTS interior is currently the pinnacle of its lineup. There are neat design features like the air vents with digital displays on the dials. The virtual cockpit instrument cluster combines digital dials with the entire infotainment system in one place. It allows what is a tight interior to feel more spacious than it actually is and is also less cluttered. Oh, and the quality is top notch!
The new E-Class's interior has moved the game on for Mercedes-Benz. The adaptable nature of the digital instrument cluster allows for individual tastes. The huge display also runs from the instrument cluster to the centre of the dashboard. It’s extremely clear and can be controlled from the steering wheel. The ambient lighting at night can be varied in any of 64 different colours. The materials used also seem to be a step up from the current generation of C- and even the S-Class.
The Volvo XC90 is the first interior from the ‘new breed of Volvos’. It will be a busy few years for the brand as it has stated that it will have an all-new model range by 2019. The XC90’s Sensus infotainment system is its highlight. It’s intuitive and with its tablet-like design and layout, it feels just like our everyday Android or Apple companions. The use of quality materials and elegant design results in a spacious, harmonious cabin.
The Opel Astra has just hit the streets in SA and first impressions are excellent - it is, after all, the current European Car of the Year, too. The new Astra has a nicely integrated infotainment screen in the centre facia that’s Apple and Android Car Play capable. The design and layout are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. The materials used are also more lavish than we’ve seen in this segment before.
The BMW i3 has a take on interiors that’s a little bit different than we’ve become accustomed to. Recycled materials have been used as much as possible to create a very open and modern feel to the cabin. The suicide doors create a pillar-less cabin that further heightens the sensation of spaciousness. There’s no transmission tunnel intruding on the cabin so the floor is flat and people have more room for their legs. No wonder the BMW i3 is currently both our Design and Game Changer of the Year.