Dumb Aesthetic Choices

Why is it that car designers keep making dumb aesthetic choices? By this I mean, do these people not drive cars, or do they take a train to work and seek to punish those of us who choose to have a car for one reason or another? Honestly, I haven’t got a clue at this point, but it seem that form almost always has to take precedence over function in at least one major touch-point of every car I’ve ever driven. I realize exterior design choices are one thing, but how can these men and women not get the interior right?

Let’s use my current car as an example of some daft interior design… I deal with the following major design flaws on a daily basis:

  • A reflective khaki toned top surface of the dashboard.
  • An aluminium shifter and pieces on the steering wheel that are burning hot in the summer and dangerously cold in the winter.
  • The differential lock switch is next to the seat heater switches and window mirror adjusters; none are lighted, they all feel alike, and you can’t see them whilst seated.
  • An equally khaki toned steering wheel that dirties immediately after cleaning.
  • A ‘phone holder’ in the console that hasn’t ever fit my phone!

Now in some cars, which drive well or help one pull, these sorts of things are almost forgivable. Some even find the atrocious ergonomics of most Italian cars to be part of their charm, but when the thorough nationalities keep getting things wrong, we have a problem. I propose a solution… Why don’t we let the less clever people do the interior. They won’t come up with these outlandish ideas, like Jaguar’s 1970′s volume knob shifter.

I want a car with switches where I can see them, and, yes, I want some bloody switches to control things. Apple made the iPhone and iPad work pretty well. Automotive designers and engineers of the world, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but you’re not capable of replicating that sort of functionality. Ford tried getting Microsoft to do their interface, and being designed by the Seattleites, it doesn’t work. This isn’t some luddite speaking, but have you ever come across a voice recognition that works? If Siri can’t understand my non-rhotic accent, God knows if a Mercedes can? America’s greatest aeronautical engineer, Kelly Johnson, had a motto: ’Keep it simple stupid.’ Clearly they need to teach this in whatever schools these designers and engineers attend, because changing the settings of just about anything is being turned into a Rube Goldberg contraption.

Being a member of his University's Alpine Ski Team only because he had a Subaru and a healthy disregard for the condition of his liver. Rolling Sloane is our decidedly opinionated motoring columnist, for better or worse...