Itâ€™s whatâ€™s inside that counts – and research by What Car? indicates that new car buyers are really taking that to heart, placing huge importance on the interiors of their next purchases, ahead of price, exterior styling and fuel economy.
With UK drivers spending 32 hours a year on average stuck in traffic jams*, every part of a carâ€™s interior, from the seats to the quality of the materials and the overall environment, has a huge role to play in keeping drivers comfortable and relaxed on the road. Especially if they are stuck in congestion.
In its latest survey, What Car? polled some 4,000 consumers on their major new car buying priorities and discovered that motorists place interior features, such as material quality and design very high on their list.
Comfort and refinement lead the way, with well over half (56%) of those polled stating that a relaxing and quiet driving environment is crucial. Almost as important is the quality of finish (55%) with drivers placing these interior features ahead of price (54%), exterior styling (47%) and fuel economy (44%).
Next on the list of interior priorities is styling and design, with more than a third (35%) stating this is key criteria that influences a new purchase, ahead of brand (34%) and depreciation (25%). And just 19% of drivers rated connectivity (such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi) as a crucial factor when buying new (almost the same as CO2 emissions â€“ 15%), indicating that when it comes to life inside the car, ambiance is streets ahead.
To help buyers on the verge of making that new car purchase, What Car?â€™s expert test team has picked out the best quality interiors on the market, across every car sector and with an overall â€˜best-in-classâ€™ winner (in bold) for each category:
City car:Â Volkswagen Up, Kia Picanto, Hyundai i10
Small car:Â Audi A1, Mini hatch (3dr & 5dr), Volkswagen Polo
Family car:Â Audi A3, Volkswagen Golf, Skoda Octavia
Estate car:Â BMW 5 Series Touring,Â Audi A6 Avant, Mercedes E-Class Estate
MPV:Â BMW 2 Series Active Tourer, Volkswagen Touran, Citroen Grand C4 Picasso
Executive:Â Audi A4, Audi A3 Saloon, Volkswagen Passat
Small SUV:Â BMW X1,Â Audi Q2,Â Volkswagen Tiguan
Large SUV:Â Audi Q5, Volvo XC60, Skoda Kodiaq
Luxury SUV:Â Bentley Bentayga,Â Audi Q7,Â Porsche Macan
Luxury:Â Rolls-Royce Ghost, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Porsche Panamera
Convertible:Â Rolls-Royce Dawn, Mercedes-Benz S-Class Cabriolet,Â Audi A5 Cabriolet
CoupÃ©: Rolls-Royce Wraith,Â Audi TT, Mercedes-Benz S-Class CoupÃ©
Sports car:Â Audi R8, Porsche 911, McLaren 540C
Electric:Â BMW i3, Tesla Model S, Volkswagen e-Golf
Hot hatch:Â Audi RS3, Volkswagen Golf R, Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG
Steve Huntingford, What Car? editor stated: â€œWe all have busy lives, so itâ€™s easy to jump into our cars and forget just how much time we spend behind the wheel, whether itâ€™s commuting or taking kids to school. But what isnâ€™t easy to overlook is comfort or good design â€“ and thatâ€™s exactly what drivers are saying in this new research.
â€œAgainst a backdrop of data that shows the average motorist can spend more than a day of his or her life every year stuck in traffic jams, itâ€™s clear that enjoying the space you are in is very important indeed. Drivers surveyed by What Car? are telling us that interior quality, comfort, refinement and overall design are crucial factors when deciding which new car to purchase â€“ in some cases more so than price and exterior design.
â€œThereâ€™s a real feeling from this survey that being relaxed and surrounded by premium materials, insulated from the outside world is a key part of the driving experience â€“ and reasons to choose one car over another. With that in mind, weâ€™ve picked out the best interiors for every class of car, with an overall winner for each category. Thereâ€™s something for everyone here and one thing is for sure, car makers have got incredibly good at giving buyers beautifully-designed and built interiors, even on cars that donâ€™t cost the earth.â€