This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
Dublin: 1 °C Monday 18 November, 2019

10 rules for car interiors that all manufacturers should read immediately

What do we want? Cup holders, and USB ports and…

Image: Shutterstock/Standret

THERE ARE CERTAIN things that make driving that little bit easier, relaxing and enjoyable like having a chauffeur or a Bentley or your own private road network.

Having a really well thought out car interior can also improve your driving experience. So what makes a cabin a nice place to be?

Here are 10 rules that should be followed in (pretty much) all cases. Feel free to share them with your nearest car manufacturer.

1. Keep it simple, stupid

Source: Newspress

Car interiors should be simple and not distracting. Drivers shouldn’t have to take their eyes off the road and use a switchboard to adjust the air-con.

And buttons should be kept to a minimum – although, Panasonic may have taken this to the extreme with its CES 2017 concept, above.

2. Consider form as well as function

Source: Max Earey

When it is necessary to fit buttons they should be interesting and well designed like the pretty piano keys found in the new Peugeot 3008 or – my personal preference – cockpit-style toggle switches like ones found in MINIs, above.

3. Location, Location, Location

Source: Eremeev Pavel

In the 70s, the Citroen CX featured a vertically positioned stereo located between the front seats. It fit perfectly – but the cassette deck would fill up with dust, crumbs and loose change and cassettes would no longer slot in.

The CX also featured a huge ‘on/off’ button on the instrument binnacle. You had to lean forward and whack the switch on whenever you wanted to indicate. You then had to whack it off again as it didn’t self-cancel.

Last month, I was driving a Fiat 500 Sport and couldn’t put down the window. Why? Because I couldn’t locate the switch. Eventually, I found it down beside the gearstick.

Buttons, switches and equipment should be located in logical positions. Windows should be operated by handles or buttons just below the windows. Indicators should be on stalks near to where your hands are when driving. Stereo systems should be on the centre console. Drivers should not be fumbling around looking for these things whilst on the move. It’s a safety thing.

Source: Newspress

4. Include parking ticket holders

It’s such a simple idea but I love the ticket holders found on the windscreens of Skodas. No more playing cat and mouse with the parking ticket on a windy day.

5. Give the driver the best seat in the house

Source: Mazda

Having an interior with a great ergonomic design is a must. This means: a fully adjustable seat and steering wheel for a comfortable and safe driving position with good visibility, a well-designed steering wheel so the driver can see the instrument cluster clearly, and a well-positioned gearstick so the driver can easily change gear without much straining.

All of these add up to a relaxing and comfortable drive that puts very little strain on the driver’s body. A must for stress-free motoring. I think Mazda have nailed this with its MX-5.

6. Be realistic with your cupholders

Source: Photo:

Cupholders that hold at least a medium-sized coffee cup or a bottle of soda would be much appreciated. I’m looking at you French car makers and your teeny tiny espresso sized cup holders.

When adding cupholders – at least two up front, please – the location rule also applies. It’s quite frustrating when you try to remove your full cup of hot coffee from a cupholder under the centre console and you have to tip the cup to get it out. This inevitably means spilling coffee everywhere.

Cupholders located further back perhaps behind the hand brake are ideal. Afterall, keeping hydrated helps you focus and stay alert!

7. Glove boxes are not just for gloves

Source: Wieck

A glove box that can hold something bigger than an actual pair of gloves would be a real joy. I particularly like the magnetic glovebox of the 1957 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham, which held a minibar, leather notebook, cigarette case, comb and perfume diffuser. All the essentials.

8. Remember that everyone owns a phone

Source: SKODA

Basically everybody has a mobile phone nowadays so it makes sense for cars to have a dedicated space especially for mobiles.

A space that also features wireless / inductive charging would also be an added bonus as it would eliminate the need for pesky wires and fighting over the USB ports, which leads me nicely to…

9. Get connected

Add more USB ports. At least two up front and two in the back, especially in cars marketed at families.

10. His-and-hers heat

Dual zone climate control is the Dr Phil of car features. It has saved my relationship countless of times.

When he has it set to a teeth-chattering 19 degrees I no longer have to sit in the car with a hot water bottle strapped to my chest giving him icy death stares. I can just turn the heat up on my side to a more normal 30 degrees and bask in the balmy heat.

READ: What is Apple CarPlay and how does it work? >

READ: The 6 driving habits that annoy me the most as a motoring journalist >

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article

About the author:

Melanie May  /

Read next: