Large screens are taking up too much real estate in new cars
Cars are not the same anymore. We are on the cusp of witnessing an absolute shift from combustion to electric propulsion. A complete changeover might be years away, at least for India, but there’s change all throughout automobiles and how we perceive mobility. Change is always welcome, especially when it is all for the better. But lately, something’s been piquing our interest. We can’t help but notice that car interiors are all starting to look the same and there’s nothing particularly distinctive in any new designs irrespective of brands.
It is hard to miss the latest trend of “less is better” which has religiously been followed by multiple carmakers across the globe. There are an increasing number of simplistic and straightforward dashboard designs with little to no extravaganza like the good ‘ol times. Take the world’s best car, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, for instance. The change in interior design from the W140 and W220 generations to the rather simple but elegant W221 is hard to miss. And ever since that, big screens have taken over and the current-gen is a host of screens with a ton of ambient lighting.
Cabins have become dangerously uncluttered with an enormous touchscreen taking up the pedestal. Enormous might be an understatement if we are being honest. Remember when we used to get immersed in Grand Theft Auto Vice City on 15-17 inch monitors after a tiring day at school? Well, the touchscreen in the Tesla Model S measures 15 inches and the rest of the industry is actively catching up to that. Case in point is MG who has teased a new Hector with a 14-inch touchscreen unit. When launched, the Hector will be the car with the biggest touchscreen in the country. The main reason why most new car interiors look drab and familiar is also because of this.
When was the last time you saw a car launched without a touchscreen infotainment system? Every cabin is now a tech fest with manufacturers in a rat race to put the biggest possible screen on their model. Since almost everything in the car gets integrated into this touchscreen, you are basically left with nothing but the AC vents. The fact that instrument clusters on all cars are going fully digital is clearly not helping things on the design front. What this translates to is a basic theme of two big screens, a steering wheel and a couple of vents. Don’t get us wrong, there is nothing wrong with a simple design, but then everything is starting to look alike. Not often do we get déjà vu from looking at interior pictures of recent unveils, especially if it’s an EV. What’s scary is you might even find yourself scratching your head if the brand logo is not visible anywhere. And not too long ago, Tata showcased the Avinya and Curvv concepts, which take it even further by having a screen right in the centre of the steering wheel where a logo should be.
Well, there are carmakers who are putting this to good use and designing functional and beautiful cabins. The Porsche Taycan is one good example. It has a well-thought-out curved display for the instrument cluster along with the main screen. But then, the design is striking, and the cabin shouts Porsche. Also, don’t forget that it is way better than its arch nemesis, the Tesla Model S, which is a mini theatre with the ‘Yoke’ steering wheel that only looks cool in TikTok and is, in reality, a safety hazard.
We are not going to take a dig at each and every interior we dislike. There is no escaping the reality that large screens are here to stay. With an increase in the size of screens, interiors are starting to look similar. There’s not much to look forward to nowadays except for the size of the screen and the number of features it packs. We are not fans of integrating almost everything into the infotainment system, especially the aircon controls. But, that is unfortunately where we are headed. And in this contest, sadly, design doesn’t seem like a priority anymore.