Is Minimalism The New Trend In Car Interiors?

Posted: Oct 31 2017, 11:22am CDT | by , in Cars & Vehicles


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Is Minimalism the New Trend in Car Interiors?
Image: BI

Modern technology is allowing us to enjoy our favorite features, without the litany of buttons.

Why should your car interior be built to a standard ten years behind your smartphone? Tesla gets a lot of credit for bringing electrified cars to the mass market, but by asking this simple, somewhat obvious question, they’ve also revolutionized the way we think about car interiors.

The last time interiors got a real jolt was in the late 90s when Audi made their big move to compete with the likes of BMW and Mercedes. You can thank them for quilted leather and baseball stitching on your seats, but today the focus is not on richness but presentation. Modern technology is allowing us to enjoy our favorite features, without the litany of buttons.

Beautiful and Functional

Even Audi has jumped on board with what Tesla, Honda, and other prominent brands are hailing as the next step in automotive interior design. Minimalism made possible by technology.

It was thought that delivering a minimalist cabin design in the flagship Model S might deter potential buyers, but with the newly released Model 3, Tesla has the perfect showcase for a functional yet austere interior. The car’s gigantic main touchscreen controls most infotainment and vehicle features, and a sweeping see-through top gives the car an open feeling.

Joining the Party

Honda is looking to recapture its cool with ultra-modern interior appointments like those found in the EV concept. First unveiled at the Frankfurt auto show, the car is a tribute to the first-generation Civic on the outside, but the interior contrasts it’s retro flair by offering only a single touchscreen situated conveniently next to the driver’s seat. Nothing else necessary. It’s brilliant.

Even the available-today Acura NSX demonstrates a shift towards a less-is-more approach in its driver-focused cockpit. While it doesn’t do away with all of the physical buttons, the second-gen halo car from Honda is pleasantly devoid of obscure icons and unneeded gauges.

Audi, too, has subscribed to this new philosophy. A multi-function LED display replaced the gauge cluster on all new Audi cars beginning in 2015. The next-generation A3, while less futuristic than Honda’s concept car or the Tesla Model 3, offers an interior that is comfortably familiar but cleanly executed.

Rolls-Royce, a company heavily invested in plush and cosseting interiors, has indicated that they will take interior designs in this direction. Their new 103EX concept car won’t be available anytime soon, but it is a glimpse of what a next-gen Roller with all the hidden bells and whistles might resemble.

We’ve Come A Long Way

Many who read this will be too young to recall the Toyota Cressida with its Transformer-style fold-out dash extension. There was a time when more buttons meant more features, more luxury, more special.

These days, if you’re looking for a way to bring your car up-to-spec, we recommend installing some upgraded interior trim over festooning a fold-out button panel together. But hey, you never know, the 90s are making a comeback. Maybe this will all blow over and we’ll be pressing buttons again in 2020…

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/56" rel="author">Scott Huntington</a>
Scott Huntington is a writer and journalist from Harrisburg PA who covered movies, tech, cars, and more. Check out his blog Off The Throttle or follow him on Twitter @SMHuntington.




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