Interior Focus – What Makes A Really Good Car Interior?
Most people spend quite a lot of time in the interior of their car. I myself used to have a long commute, so I was spending a minimum of 15 hours per week inside the car. That’s nearly 10% of a week! and If we exclude the hours we should be spending asleep, it closes in on 15%! Clearly if we are going to spend this much time in our cars, then I would hope the interior is relatively nice place to be. But what makes a nice car interior? Lots of buttons? A huge touchscreen? Having everything electric? Is there an opportunity to save some money by opting for less technology? Let’s investigate and focus on the interior.
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In my view the first thing a great interior needs is an attractive and logical layout. When you’re driving your car, most of your concentration needs to be on the road, clearly. A compliant interior in this respect is one where you can operate all of the controls without needing to look at them. This takes time and familiarity. Even I still look at the buttons I’m pressing for the climate control to make sure I’m setting the right temperature. But I know where all the controls are and what they do. It’s simple and logical. It was even quite funky in its day. I tend to adjust the stereo more than the climate control. So it makes sense for this to be mounted higher up. Cool designs and colours can help lift an interior and make it more inviting. But my car is from 17 years ago.
Today’s cars are all about minimising buttons, having 19 different sub-menus and massive touchscreens. There are some aspects of this that I like. I agree that fewer buttons can make an interior look cleaner and less cluttered. However, I would still like some buttons to press because touchscreens are not always the best solution. They don’t always work well with gloves, and they can be horrendously laggy and slow in cars.
This would be acceptable (almost) if we weren’t being treated to some fantastically fast mobile phones. My OnePlus 6T is two generations older than today’s equivalent. I’m not sure that there is a car touchscreen that can keep up with it. Not the fairest example you may argue, because OnePlus devices are generally among the very fastest. But if I’m paying extra for something, I want improvement. I expect improvement.
Another key to a good car interior is a comfy and supportive set of seats. After all, we might be sitting in the car for a while, if we’re stuck in a traffic jam. Seats that support bottom and back. Seats with the right level of firmness to keep everything in shape, but the right level of softness to not become irritating. The focus scores well here too. After a couple of hours driving, I can still feel my bottom. I haven’t been able to say that about all cars I’ve piloted. I might even consider taking a cushion with me the next time I go anywhere near a go-kart.
For me, a decent car interior has to feel solid as well. Nothing is more irritating than a piece of flimsy material letting the side down. The car might well last many hundreds of thousands of miles. But it also needs to reassure the occupants of this by making the right impression. To be honest, this Focus is never going to be known for its interior quality. The choice of materials inside even this ‘luxury’ Ghia version is not going to ruin the sleeping pattern of Rolls-Royce. But it does feel solid built (out of the wrong materials). Everything still works and shows no signs of giving up. The control feel tactile, which is perhaps what some are missing from the move to touchscreens.
Finally for me, a great interior has to feel like it’s isolating you from the (big bad) world. Increased sound deadening allows for a more calm atmosphere. Subtle night lighting gives the impression that you’re barely visible. In some more sporty cars, the controls and dashboard are angled towards the driver. This makes one feel cossetted, surrounded and to a certain extent, safe. I would hazard a guess that most people do like to feel safe inside their cars, and not exposed or stressed. Driving is difficult enough without having to worry about how to operate the various controls.
So when you next think about buying a car, have a good long sit in the interior. How does it make you feel? Are the controls too much of a stretch? Does the layout make sense to you? Is there enough space to get comfortable? There is an argument for this aspect of car buying to be as important as the test drive itself. A brochure can tell you what the car is capable of. But it can’t tell you how you will feel being inside it for long periods of time. And if it tries to, the info is unlikely to be tailored!
What do you think makes a great car interior? Do you feel I’ve left out something obvious? Could we save money, go for an older style interior and be less stressed? Is newer better? Hopefully this interior focus has been useful! Join the family, and let me know in the comments. Also do please get in contact if you have any questions. Thanks for reading!