Sometimes what you are looking for is not far from the front of your face. I have often bemoaned the lack of a modern equivalent of Lancia’s Spartan but high-quality interiors. It was under my nose, so to speak.
I wasn’t paying attention, was I? While in Scotland recently I had the time to take a look at the dashboard and interior of a Range Rover Evoque. They have only been on sale for eight years now so it was maybe a bit much to expect I’d get to it before now.
The interior, to my immense surprise, conformed entirely to my standards of what a modern Lancia dashboard might look like: very well made, tending towards starkness and simplicity and demonstrating restrained good taste. I thought those values were so out of fashion that you’d need to go back to the 80s to find them.
How did I manage to overlook the Landie’s interior? Prejudice on my part, pretty much. I am not a Land Rover fan, I don’t care about off-roading and, to be frank, I simply didn’t expect this from a British brand.
The Evoque concept dates to 2008, to a show-car revealed at Detroit. A lot of the action is on the outside: a dramatic and swept back vehicle made of concentrated Range Rover styling themes, boiled down and concentrated some more. It is is to Range Rover what Bovril is to a cow.
However, the interior is more than just “dramatic”. It’s dramatically simple and it’s probably not a design that looks all that much on paper. To get this design you need to make a fully-realistic prototype. The effectiveness of the form depends on the particularities of colour, material and finish and not on show-stopping geometry as with many other premium brands’ interiors.
Range Rover is not the only firm heading down the path to austerity. Tesla’s Model 3, for better or for worse, is as plain as a glass of really nice water. These cars have started appearing in my area (and Evoques have not) which is why I was able to see inside one. Another peep through a wind-screen led me to a similar surprise as with the LR.
The Tesla’s impressively simple plank of wood and the surrounding plastic trim is more or less what I have in mind when I imagine a modern Lancia interior. The huge tablet is the part I candidly must say I have difficulty with. It’s not subtle or even ergonomic. The funny thing with certain types of technology such as analogue dials is that they retain their appeal long after new technology has appeared to make the old stuff redundant. This is why we still have steering wheels. And why the tablet interface is unsettling. I feel the slab of glass is too crude.
The Landie retains enough of the analogue elements so it does not appear unfinished. The Tesla alas, is so stripped down as to look as if something is missing. That being the case, I think something (not sure what) could and should have been done to avoid that. For a premium car, the barren appearance jars.
I’d have removed that silly central console for start. We here at DTW know centre consoles are an empty trope – it’s odd the clever people at Tesla are not yet up to speed with this insight.
Caveats aside, these two interiors show what can be done in the Lancia spirit.