Apart for looking at one's car in a shop window you are quite right, the feel and sensation from in the car should be the primary concern. Trouble is you'll never impress anyone not in the car with the dashboard! But i really like the sense of occasion a good interior design brings, not just the dash itself. A few subtle changes can turn a reasonably sporty car into something special. I had two BMW E46s for quite a few years, a 318i and an M3. Basically the same dash etc but the M3 looks and feels a lot more special. On the whole I have always liked BMW's dash designs, starting with what became they blueprint for the company, the pre-WW2 328 which had a simple but effective design with primary gauges for, reading from left to right, fuel, speed, revs and water temp. This layout has been retained on almost every BMW since. The 1975 E21 introduced the single binnacle design, stylish and functional. Same basic layout but now with fighter pilot styled orange lighting and the angled centre to really show who's in charge. In various ways this design persists today in the "layered" design currently in vogue. Whilst a lot of motoring writers rave about the Audi dash I find it cluttered and soulless. I liked the look and feel of Jag's '60s dashboards but the long row of toggle switches were an ergonomic nightmare. BTW according to Wikipedia - dashboard "The word originally applied to a barrier of wood or leather fixed at the front of a horse-drawn carriage or sleigh to protect the driver from mud or other debris "dashed up" (thrown up) by the horses' hooves". Most design offices these days refer to the "crashpad", the "bulkhead" and the "instrument carrier", with a "floating centre" between the seats. Dash is easier.
Published on 21 February 2015
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