04/12/2020

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Worst Car Interiors of 2020: McLaren, Corvette, Lotus, Nissan, Fiat

This is not a list of bad cars.

The Chevrolet Corvette, the McLaren 570S, and Lotus Evora, for example, are among the most athletic, fun-to-drive vehicles on the market today.

But the ability to provide a thrilling experience from behind the wheel doesn’t mean a car sailed through the interior design portion of the test. Engineering prowess doesn’t always transfer to the cabin. Pity the afterthought! Much more than things to drive, cars have become the spaces in which we work, preen, eat, nap, detox, and even learn. A good interior, from driver’s seat to backseat, facilitates all that. A bad one actively gets in the way.

The interior of a car, in fact, is the most critical element of the entire driving and riding experience. It’s the only place where the body (hands, feet, back, legs) actually connects with the vehicle. The comfort of the space, the convenience of the technology, the quality of the craftsmanship when we run our fingers along the seams of the seats—this is the environment we feel and remember long after a drive. It’s like a twist on that Maya Angelou quote about remembering what people say vs. how they make us feel: You may forget the engine specifications or, say, gas mileage of a ride, but you won’t forget how you felt inside it. 

To that end, here are five cars from luxury brands that are likely to leave you feeling stressed, confused, or disappointed when you walk away. It’s no excuse that many on this list are sports cars, which tend to be more minimal inside than grand touring cars and cruisers (it helps keep bodyweight down while optimizing weight balance). But Audi, Ferrari, Porsche, and Mercedes-Benz all make sports cars with excellent interiors. These, unfortunately, aren’t up to snuff.

 

The Chevrolet Corvette.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

Price: $58,900

Why it’s bad: This take is going to be polarizing—the C8 is a great driving car—but then, the interior itself is polarizing. Literally. Witness the massive, curved divider that runs straight through the middle of the car. Lined with buttons and covered in low-grade leather, it looks like a part of the command helm on the starship Enterprise

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Behind the wheel of the Corvette.

Photographer: Jessica Lynn Walker

This effect is bad for two reasons. First, it means there’s no flow, no fluidity, in the space between the driver and passenger, which ruins any attempt at harmony within the car. You’ll never be able to reach over and squeeze your driving partner’s knee or use the buttons on the angled center dashboard screen while the car is being driven. Second, those dozens of buttons along the interior walls, dashboard, and dividers feel out of step with current themes and with much of the luxury segment, where brands like Mercedes-Benz and Rolls-Royce brag about how many interior knobs and switches they’re removing—at customer request.

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The view from the passenger’s side.

Photographer: Jessica Lynn Walker

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A view of both seats inside the Chevy Corvette.  

Photographer: Jessica Lynn Walker

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What’s more: The square steering wheel split from the center by two drooping spokes looks as if it were borrowed from Buick. The single-minded orientation of every button and screen in the cabin toward the driver crosses the line between just being a driver’s car and being too much; anyone unfortunate enough to ride shotgun is going to feel very left out. 

Plus: As you might expect in such a low, awkwardly designed cabin, visibility near the B pillars is cut to the minimum. It’s even obstructed sometimes by the A pillar, which gets in the way of forward-looking sightlines when taking tight corners. Thankfully, a side blind zone alert system comes standard. You’ll need it. 

 

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The McLaren 570S.

Photographer: Hannah Elliott/Bloomberg

Price: $195,000

Why it’s bad: The actual design of the interior systems in the McLaren 570S aren’t bad, once you get used to looking at a slim, vertically oriented touchscreen, find a semi-comfortable rear wedge to sit on in the unusually narrow seats, and come to recall where the spaces for cups and cell phones are hidden (and they do feel hidden).

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