Loads of cars trade on their styling. Minis, Fiat 500s and Citroen DS3s all rely on their stylish, funky exteriors to get people into showrooms. However, it’s inside our cars where we spend the most time so it’s important that it’s a nice place to sit.
In the old days, you didn’t need much more than leather, a slab of walnut veneer and a deep shagpile carpet to make a luxurious interior. Today, manufacturers have to channel their inner Kevin McCloud to make their interiors as eye-catching and comfortable as possible, using unique designs, quality materials and lots of technology.
When judging this year’s crop of interiors we were looking for great design, impeccable material quality and intelligent integration of technology.
Following up the highly successful first- and second-generation Audi TTs was never going to be an easy task. Audi has again demonstrated, though, that they are one of the best in the business at making incredibly desirable cars. As bold as the TT’s exterior styling is, the interior of the TT was foremost on many reviewers lips.
The main feature of the cabin is Audi’s new Virtual Cockpit – a large TFT (digital) screen that replaces the traditional instruments and can be configured to show revs and speed prominently, or focus more on sat-nav instructions. The rest of the cabin is up to Audi’s usual high-quality and features neat details such as mobile phone storage with wireless charging and climate controls integrated into the vents.
As stylish as the exterior of the new Mercedes C-Class is, it’s the interior that’s been catching most reviewers’ eyes. Mercedes claims the car is designed to feel like it’s from the class above, and they’ve certainly achieved this.
All cars get artificial leather as standard, many of the switches and interior touch points are made of real metal and the swooping centre console isn’t overloaded with controls. The infotainment screen has caused some raised-eyebrows with some reviewers feeling it looks tacked-on. The controls that operate it, however, are stylish and reasonably easy to learn how to operate.
Citroen C4 Cactus
Next to the Germans on this shortlist, some may feel the Citroen C4 Cactus looks out of place. However, step inside a C4 Cactus and you may quickly change your mind. The design is decidedly French with a minimum of extraneous styling details. A long bar forms the dashboard with the infotainment screen and instrument cluster being the only real features on it, alongside the top-opening glovebox.
The seats have been designed to model the welcoming comfort of a lounge sofa and there’s plenty of room inside for four full-size adults. Material quality is more utilitarian than the other cars on the shortlist, but the C4 Cactus is significantly cheaper than either.