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Dash Design and Ergonomics

The words ‘interior design’ are two words you’d associate with renovating or building new homes, however they are also linked to a car’s cabin area.  The interior of modern cars integrate sensational materials with new styles, new technology and superior comfort.  You may have come across the term ‘ergonomics’.  Ergonomics looks at how a person’s working environment fits around them.  Ergonomics associated with a driver of a vehicle will look at how the car’s switchgear, instruments, features, dash and driving equipment situate themselves comfortably within the driver’s reach.  These items also need to be easy to understand and simple to use.  Flagship models are where you would expect to find the best materials (usually leather), the best technology, greater levels of luxury features and usually the greatest comfort.  I’ve sought to look at a few of the latest flagship models on the market and rate them according to how their dash layout stacks up to being simple to use, nice to look at simple for the driver’s eyes to read.  The ratings are from 1 to 3.  A score of 3 means that the car’s cockpit and dash layout is excellent; it also means that the car’s cockpit and dash layout is easy to use and looks top notch.  A score of 2 means that the car does a fair job of getting it all sorted.  A score of 1 means that there is work to be done!

Alfa Romeo’s 159 flagship scores a 2.  The car’s dash has a unique appearance with some nice circular air vents. The buttons for various features on the central console are pleasant to look at and use.

Audi’s flagship, the A8, scores a 2.  The A8 has a smart looking dash with a very cool computer screen that flips up.  A little fiddly.

BMW’s 7 series scores a 3. The layout is smart and very comfortable to use.  BMW’s iDrive dial gives the luxurious 7 an uncluttered central console appearance making it simple and functional.  The layout is easy on the eye.

Citroen’s C6 scores a 2, with its very stylish dash leading the way.  Unfortunately the buttons are a bit fiddlier and require more concentration to use.  The C6 interior is lovely, however.

Ford Falcon scores a 3.  Smart, simple, clear switchgear and instrumentation look good and the bits and pieces are easy to use.

Holden’s Caprice scores a 2.  I found the dash a bit on the dull side.  However, the buttons were reasonably straightforward to use.  The Caprice leather seats are lovely.

Honda’s Legend scores a 2.  The Legend has a very beautiful dash design with excellent quality; however the layout is a bit  complicated on the eye.  Sumptuous materials and great seats give the Legend loads of comfort.  There would be others that would give it a 3.

Hyundai’s Grandeur scores a 2.  The dash has a simple and clean layout, but it has an overall bland appearance with the buttons being clustered.

Jaguar’s XJ scores a 3.  Unique styling looks superb, and the layout is simple enough when you get used to it.

Range Rover’s Vogue has an opulent interior that feels kingly.  The dash is a bit cluttered, while remaining relatively symmetric and sophisticated in most parts.

Slip into the Lexus LS, and the ergonomics are brilliant.  With a score of 3, the LS has a lot of buttons – but they were very well laid out and clear.  The dash looks good, too.

Mazda’s CX-9 was to score a 3.  Here is a nice balanced dash and cockpit that is smart, clear and logical.

Mercedes Benz S-Class is luxurious.  A score of 3 also meant that the dash was classy, simple, clear and uncluttered. The car is loaded with kit.

Mitsubishi’s Pajero Exceed scores a 2.  Nice tone and design, however the switchgear is a bit fiddly to use.

Nissan’s Maxima Ti scored a 2 – bordering on a 1 – is a bit fiddly to use.  Perhaps Nissan was trying too hard to be different, leading to cluttered switchgear – particularly around the computer screen.  Others are sure to score it differently.

Peugeot’s 4007 scores a 3. Smart, easy to use, modern facia technology looks the part.

Porsche Panamera scored 2. The reasonably well ordered centre console has way too many buttons.  This leads to a very cluttered appearance.

Renault gets it right with the Fluence.  The Fluence dash has a nice layout that is easy to use, easy to live with and unique.
The Fluence scores a 3.

Saab’s 9-5 has excellent ergonomics and scores a 3.  The driver of a 9-5 should feel very much in control of their surrounding cockpit.  It is simple enough to use – though there are a few buttons.  This is the car that makes the driver feel like they’re flying.  All the bits and pieces are clear, and everything around the driver is organised in a very clear ergonomic fashion.

Skoda’s Superb scores 2. Buttons and switchgear are a bit hard to read.  This lets down the car’s, otherwise, top build quality and nice materials.

Subaru’s Tribeca scores 2 – could be a 3 depending on taste.  To me, the dash looks a bit like it’s sagging in the middle. Otherwise, the dash looks stylish and is refreshingly different.  Switchgear and instrumentation is clear to read.

Toyota’s Aurion scores a 3 with the car’s smart simple layout.

Volkswagen’s Passat scores a 2 with its bland and fiddly interior.  Everything else is impeccable.

Volvo’s S80 is very sumptuous and scores a 3.  The nice layout is sophisticated but easy enough to use.