They say it’s what’s inside that counts – and new research suggests that car buyers are really taking that to heart, prioritising an appealing interior over price, exterior styling and fuel economy.
What Car? asked 4000 consumers what they look for when choosing a new car, and more than half (56%) of those polled stated that a relaxing and quiet driving environment is crucial.
Almost as important is the quality of the interior finish, with 55% citing this as a priority. Fewer were concerned about price (54%), exterior styling (47%) and fuel economy (44%).
Brand and resale values were important to 34% and 25% respectively, while 19% of drivers rated connectivity features (such as Bluetooth and a wi-fi hotspot) as a crucial factor when buying new. Just 15% cited CO2 emissions.
With this in mind, What Car?'s team of expert reviewers has picked out the classiest and most relaxing interiors on the market, across every car sector.
Best: Volkswagen Up
The Hyundai i10 may be more practical, but the Up is the plushest city car on sale; even the lower-end versions look and feel surprisingly smart inside. Meanwhile, the High Up model is even better, with glossy dashboard panels, chrome-rimmed controls and plastics that are of a uniformly high standard throughout.
Best: Audi A1
You'd never guess that the A1 is Audi's smallest and cheapest model from looking at its interior. It has densely padded, squishy plastics in all the right places, and while a few more rugged finishes are present, they’re kept down low and well out of sight. The switches and buttons on the dashboard don’t let the side down, either; they look and feel expensive.
Best: Audi A3
Another class, another Audi. The A3 is the benchmark for how a family hatchback should look and feel, with the whole interior built from the sort of high-grade materials you’d usually expect to find in an executive saloon. The A3 is also as quiet as anything in the class.
Best: BMW X1
While the original X1 had hard, cheap-feeling plastics throughout its interior, this latest model is about as classy as small SUVs get. The X1 has the kind of solid build quality and premium feel that you’d hope for from a premium-badged German car. If you really want to push the boat out, leather upholstery is standard on high-spec xLine models and optional on all other trim levels.
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