4/30/2004 | 8 MINUTE READ

Inside Edition

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Looking inside 10 interesting vehicles. Some production. Some concepts. All with interesting interiors.


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2005 Chevrolet Corvette

As the Corvette is meant to be a daily-driver and not just something to throw around on the weekends, lead interior designer Eric Clough and his colleagues paid careful attention to all aspects of the dual-cockpit-based interior. One focus was on materials: the IP and doors are covered with cast-skin foam-in-place trim that resembles leather. One benefit of this material is said to be that it has minimal outgassing, thereby reducing the amount of glass fogging. To say nothing of the fact that it looks better than many interior polymers. The gauges are analog, with white-on-black numerals. White light-emitting diode (LED) technology is used to backlight the gauges and provides a considerable contrast ratio. There is a driver information center that uses organic LED technology; it permits the elimination of backlighting. The seats employ a two-layer composite seat frame and an aluminum base; the goal is to provide both support (especially during high-rate maneuvering) and long-distance comfort. And even the cupholders are improved: They're said to provide the stability necessary for lateral and fore/aft acceleration.



2005 Saturn Relay

Although the exterior of the crossover sport van (CSV) is supposed to resemble a sport utility vehicle, the inside is supposed to be like a minivan. As many people "live" in their minivans, this comment from Michael Stapleton, design manager and lead interior designer for GM's CSVs, makes sense: "We had contemporary furniture in mind when we designed them—clean lines, high quality and an absence of visual 'noise.'" The primary pieces of furniture are the seats, which are vinyl/cloth or leather surfaced, depending on the trim level. The second and third rows of seats are foldable and removable. The center stack has a light maple-color wood grain surround for the audio and HVAC controls. The IP is two toned, with an ebony-colored upper and either a medium gray or medium cashmere lower. Overhead, there is a standard rail system that provides rear HVAC and audio controls, lighting, rear-seat entertainment (optional DVD), and three storage modules. There is a cargo system below the third row seats with dividers to hold such things as groceries.



2005 Chrysler Town & Country and Dodge Grand Caravan

No one has been building minivans longer than the folks at Chrysler. While some have trumped the company of late, they've come back strong with a unique feature for these '05s: the Stow 'n Go Seating system. By creating a new underbody, fuel tanks, exhaust system, park brake cables, rear and climate control lines, and by modifying the rear suspension, and by, well, inventing these clever new seats, they've come up with the means by which the second and/or third rows of seats can be folded flat into the floor. The headrests do not need to be removed. The operation is simple and easy (which is, in part, a function of all of those aforementioned modifications to the vehicle). One consequence of the packaging requirements for Stow 'n Go is that a super high-density foam is used—which is more expensive than traditional seat foams—because in addition to having seats that fold flat in a comparatively compact space, Chrysler wanted seats that are comfortable, too. When the second row of seats is not folded flat, there is 12-ft3 of covered storage space in the footwell area (where the seats would be folded into). The second row also has 4 in. of fore and aft travel and can recline up to 40º. The second row also tumbles forward to permit third row passengers to get to their seats. The third row bench, incidentally, can be flipped reward (fully or either section of the 60/40 split) for tailgate seating.



2005 Ford Mustang

Check the "Color Accent Package"—charcoal with red leather seats, red door inserts, red floor mats. It looks as fast inside as from without. Chromed ringed gauges have color-configurable readouts: 125 colors. The chromed-ringed air vents are vertically aligned with the gauges so that there is a consistent, uniform look on the IP. The Mustang is a four-place vehicle; focus was on providing as much space as possible for heads, shoulders and legs. Of course, as the Mustang is a fastback, the headroom in the rear isn't nearly what it is in the front: architecture has consequences. One available option that is of note: the 1,000-W "Shaker Audiophile" system. (If the engine doesn't do it, the sounds surely will.)



2005 Ford Freestyle

Because this is a new vehicle for Ford, the designers and engineers were able to start with a nearly clean slate. As Phil Martens, Ford's group vice president of Product Creation, puts it, "Freestyle is built from the ground up as a crossover with class-leading spaciousness, seven-passenger comfort, versatility and all-wheel-drive capability." There's lots of nook-and-cranny storage in this crossover vehicle: 12 cup holders; a bin on top of the instrument panel; center console; and more. The center stack is faced with either a hydrographic burl-wood pattern wood grain or a faux carbon fiber, depending on whether you want a sense of elegance or high tech. Heated leather seats are available. Second row seating is either captain's chairs or 60/40-split fold bench. A raised greenhouse over the third row provides extra headroom; the backs of the second row seats are designed to provide more legroom. Total interior volume: 154.2 ft3.



2005 Ford GT

"As a race car, the original Ford GT didn't have an interior design to speak of," says chief designer Camilo Pardo. This one does. Central is a brushed-magnesium tunnel. The tunnel is fitted with a polished-aluminum emergency brake handle, manual shift lever and climate controls. (The tunnel contains the fuel tank.) The seat structure consists of a carbon fiber shell covered with leather seating surfaces that are studded with aluminum grommets for air circulation. The matte-black IP is punctuated with analog gauges and toggle switches. The IP, door panels, and lower portion of the tunnel are fabricated with Azdel SuperLite composite. The door pulls are aluminum extrusions. Technical is as technical does.



2005 Audi A8 L 6.0 quAttro

According to market researchers at Audi, there are just 6,000 12-cylinder vehicles sold each year on the planet. With this new product, they are hoping to get a piece of that market. Although the focus is primarily under the hood, they were unstinting inside the cabin. Notable is an available leather-trimmed center console that runs through to the back seats so those who are passengers (this car is one that may be driven by a chauffer) have control functions, such as for the 6.5-in. LCD monitors fitted into the head rests of the driver's and front passenger's seats. Speaking of seats, the car can be fitted with seats that not only have individual climate control, but a massage function, as well. A mobile phone/fax unit can be installed for the rear passengers, as can folding tables. Up front there is a knob flanked by eight function keys behind the console-mounted shifter that serves as the input for the MMI, which controls various operational functions (navi, telephone, Bose audio, etc.). To indicate that this A8 is the top of the line, there is an aluminum trim piece that runs below the wood trim on the IP and goes all the way to the rear of the vehicle.



Mercedes Grand Sports Tourer concept

Although it is still a show car, the series production will begin for 2005 availability. The six-passenger vehicle is all about spaciousness and comfort for the passengers, with the interior accounting for more than 44% of the 202-in. long vehicle. There's ample legroom for the second- and third-row passengers (36 in. and 32.5 in., respectively) and plenty of headroom (especially for the second row passengers: it's 40 in.). Aluminum is used extensively on the inside. There are gauge dials that have aluminum faces; they are set at the ends of aluminum cylinders. Aluminum is used for the side air outlets and to frame the cupholders in the center console. Two aluminum pieces flank the center stack that houses the multimedia COMAND display. This is not all-unrelenting metal on the inside: There is a large piece of wood that runs along the top half of the IP. To let the wood be wood, it isn't embedded under a heavy coating but simply waxed and oiled. The seats are leather, and the rear seatbacks are combined pieces of leather and fabric, both of which are laser cut for precision.



Land Rover Range Stormer concept

You don't often hear the term "Möbius strip" associated with an automotive interior (or an automotive anything else, for that matter), but that endless loop is the basis of the seats for the Range Stormer concept. There are four seats. Each seat has an aluminum frame and is fitted into a visible aluminum track. On top of the frame is a saddle leather facing; one hide is used per seat. Observes design director Geoff Upex: "The saddle leather not only looks fantastic but it is very hard wearing." Saddle leather is also used for the top roll of the dashboard and center console. The lower fascia, door inners and headliner uses an ivory leather. The floor surface? Leather. Other than that, aluminum is the dominant material for everything from the gauge dial faces to the shift mechanism, buttons, and switches. There are three DVD screens (two in the back, one in the front). The rear load area has compartments that can be electrically elevated and lowered. And there are storage bags fitted into the sidewalls. They're leather.



Mitsubishi Sport Truck concept

The inside of this four-passenger cabin screams simplicity and functionality. The simplicity is certainly the minimalist IP. The gauge cluster is based on LCD displays. The center panel features elementary-appearing CD and MP3 audio components. The shifter is a dial. There are paddle-shift controls on the metal-finished steering wheel. As for functionality, check the seamless seats: They're made of washable, weatherproof fabric. The rear seats can be moved out into the rear bed so that there is an open-air riding position. Inside the cabin, infinitely variable, programmable "Visopia" lighting system not only provides color, but also patterns and animations to evoke moods.

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