Here’s a breath of fresh air; Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby declared that his cars, laden with safety systems and other gadgets, are too complex for most of Volvo’s customers.
Volvo has been very quiet about new products since Ford sold the only Swedish car maker still afloat. With little fanfare Volvo has updated the S80 and XC70′s interior with a new dash and new infotainment system and this is the first time TTAC has seen them in person. The 7-inch color screen is the same as the system used in the new S60. Compared to iDrive and Audi’s MMI the system is just as slick-looking but the smallish screen size just lacks the wow factor the Germans get when passengers slip in the car. Along with the new screen Volvo has added pedestrian detection to the S80, XC70 and XC60 as well as a new adaptive cruise control system that will take your Volvo to a complete stop and hold you there until traffic resumes. Of course all this is secondary to the sexy new stitched pleather dash the S80 on the LA Auto Show floor was sporting. Sadly Volvo tells us they don’t anticipate putting these revised Volvos in the hands of the press for reviews, probably spending this precious cash to devise new and better nannies to save our bacon in the future.
Though we haven’t even seen a production version yet, Cadillac’s forthcoming XTS has already lived a full, controversy-laden life. Initially suggested as a replacement for the DTS/STS, the Cadillac faithful quickly recoiled at the idea of a luxury “flagship” based on a stretched version of the Epsilon II midsized platform that underpins the Buick LaCrosse and Chevrolet Malibu. But with the Cadillac Ciel Concept showing the way forward for a “true” Caddy flagship which will eventually become the brand’s standard-bearer, the XTS’s role has been somewhat redefined. Expectations for the XTS were walked back by GM CEO Dan Akerson, who famously said that it was
not going to blow the doors off, but will be very competitive
And this week the enigma that is the XTS only deepened, as Cadillac announced two bits of seemingly contradictory information about it: first, that it would spearhead a new high-tech interface (see video above) and second, that it would mark GM’s return to the livery car business.
According to Automotive News [sub], the automotive supplier industry is going coo-coo for center stacks. Calling it “the hottest chunk of vehicle real estate” for suppliers, AN reports that the center console has “become a California gold rush of opportunity.” Having glanced at the headline, I figured the topic would make for an interesting question: what’s your favorite center stack? If nothing else, I figured it would be an opportunity to sing the praises of my M Coupe’s stripped-down, old-school console (I realize there’s nothing more dull than a car writer praising his own vehicle, but bear with me… there’s a point coming).
TTAC commentator mistercopacetic writes:
Dear Mr. Mehta,
Big fan of TTAC and Piston Slap. I have a 2001 Honda CR-V with a cloth interior which I would like to switch out for a leather interior. I am doing this mostly because I am too cheap to buy a new car, but want to feel like I am driving a new car with leather seats. I found a store online selling a Roadwire leather seat kit for $595, on sale until June 15 from $962 list. It looks like this is a replacement interior, not just seat covers, so I will be pulling out the old seats, removing the cloth from the seat frame, and installing the leather. My question: is this something I can do myself, or is it better to get a professional installer? I would like to save some cash, but if it is a job that requires expertise I would rather pay someone who knows what they are doing. I’ve searched some forums online and my impression is that an aftermarket leather interior can either look terrible or meet or exceed a factory leather interior in look and quality, depending on the skill of the installer.
The US market won’t be getting the microvan-style Mercedes B-Class or the hot little A-Class hatch (thanks to to “consumer clinics”), but we will be getting a a crossover, a sporty coupe and a sedan based on the same front-drive platform. Because these models will form the new entry-level for the Mercedes brand in the US, we can assume the new models will have a similar interior to the B-Class, which debuts at the Frankfurt show in September… and that means this video is a sneak-peek at an interior we won’t see at a dealership until 2012 at the earliest. So… what do we think?
Unintended acceleration has been a huge topic in automotive circles over the last year or so, as the Toyota Recall Scandal brought new attention to that man-machine-interface problem. But did you know Mercedes has been receiving its own complaints about UA? Neither did we, as a post-Toyota Recall survey of NHTSA complaints showed Mercedes enjoying one of the lowest rates of UA complaints of all manufacturers. But, reports WardsAuto, the problem was indeed real.
Just about anyone who has driven a Mercedes-Benz in the past decade has experienced it: unintended sudden acceleration because of awkward placement of the cruise-control stalk on the left side of the steering wheel.
A driver may think he is signaling to turn right, when inadvertently he has pushed the cruise control lever upward to the “accel” position, occasionally sending the vehicle bolting forward instead of slowing down to turn at an intersection. This could happen if the cruise control was on but not active.
Left turns were somewhat less problematic because pushing the lever downward put the cruise-control system into “decel” mode.
I don’t know about you, but I’m finding the “analog clock=luxury” thing a bit played out. One upon a time, the old-school interior clock was everywhere… and folks called it a modern convenience. Then it became a genteel, slightly throwback Maserati hallmark. Then it became a symbol of Infiniti’s admiration for Maseratis, and its desire to stand apart in the luxury market. Then Chryslers started adding clocks as it moved, unconvincingly, to position itself upmarket. Now? Now the interior chronograph just seem to be a symbol of trying to hard to appear luxurious without really offering anything unique, distinctive, or innovative. Which is why I’m a bit concerned that an early shot of the new Lexus GS, a car that has years of underachievement in a crucial segment to make up for, seems to show that Lexus has succumbed to the siren call of the dashboard clock.
To the best of my knowledge, Lexus has never indulged in an analog dash clock before (at least in the US market), as its interiors have always been modern and purposeful, emphasizing function over frippery. This isn’t a question of “ruining” the car itself… few customers are likely to put as much emphasis on an analog clock as I do. But in this small step I do see signs of a brand drifting away from its pioneering roots and towards the directionless malaise that inevitably leads to fad-chasing, and style over substance. Even if Lexus does need to reinvigorate its aesthetic DNA, ripping of the cheesiest “Luxury: I Has It” signifier in the interior design playbook ain’t a promising start. Don’t clock up a good thing, Lexus!
When I reviewed the current Chevrolet Malibu, I was generally impressed with GM’s effort in a highly competitive segment, but I had a few complaints. One of those complaints had to do with the ‘bu’s back bench, which prompted me to note
the rear seats seem like almost an afterthought compared to the well-appointed front row. Low seat height, a relatively narrow bench and unsupportive seating make for a poor combination
With images of an updated Malibu making the rounds of the blogosphere, and the Detroit News reporting that its production has been pulled ahead by six months by the order of Dan Akerson, you might think GM had taken the opportunity to improve the Malibu’s second-row shortcomings. But, according to Automotive News [sub]‘s product editor, Rick Kranz, it seems that GM has done the opposite of improve rear-seat interior space… because of yet another of the ‘bu’s shortcomings.
Jeep has released the first pictures of its next refreshed product, the 2011 Jeep Wrangler, but the changes don’t exactly jump out. That’s because, besides a new body-color hardtop and five new exterior colors, the changes have all taken place on the inside. You know, where they’re most needed. Have they done the job? Hit the jump for the first peek…
For a moment, turn away from the uncertain prospects of Chrysler’s Fiat-directed future and consider the subject of this review as nothing other than one entry in the popular five-door hatchback segment of the North American compact car market.
That’s what I had to do, anyway, in order to rationalize driving and writing about a vehicle that a lot of folks would justifiably consider to be a loser car from a loser car company. The question is, is it really?
Just as Toyota has coasted in recent years on a reputation built some time ago, Audi’s latest round of interior-cheapening has gone largely unremarked-upon in the motoring press. Sitting in the new A4, I don’t find myself thinking, as Motor Trend did, that its “high-quality materials and clean, attractive design continue to live up to Audi’s stellar reputation as the industry benchmark.” In fact, the interiors of nearly every current Audi (except the A8 and TT) strike me as cheap, disappointing and monumentally uninspired. In other words, the opposite of living up to Audi’s reputation.
Whenever I read a TTAC car review or read comments I see nothing but complaints of hard plastics and ill fits. It made me wonder, is there some ideal vehicle interior out there being held as the standard to all others? I sat in a Lamborghini Gallardo at last years NAIAS and thought the suede covered dash looked ridiculous – but thats probably the opposite of the hard plastics people complain about. Maybe I am just interior challenged that I don’t notice these things but unless my dash is peeling, and as long as it’s pretty intuitive control wise, it’s appealing. So what is the benchmark interior, the standard that all interiors should strive towards?