The third annual Automotive Interiors Expo wrapped up this week, with Interior Designer of the Year honours going to Gorden Wagener of Mercedes-Benz; runners up were Alexandre Malval of Citroen, Gilles Vidal of Peugeot and Antoine Genin of Renault. Wagener worked on the interior layouts for the new S-Class and C-Class, after having worked on the cabins for the A-Class, B-Class, E-Class and CLS.
The new C-Class cabin is driver-centric, with soft-touch surfaces and high-end multimedia systems for a combination the awards’ organizers called sporty and sensuous. An all-new centre console anchors the design, with a different design style distinguishing automatic and manual models. Organizers touted a seven-inch freestanding central display unit as the most eye-catching of elements.
Capturing gold for Interior Design of the Year – Concept Vehicle was the Jaguar C-X17, followed by the Renault Initiale Paris, Smart ForJoy, Lexus LF-NX and Toyota FT-1.
The Jag sports crossover concept was hailed for its “high-end interactive technology with premium, traditionally crafted materials, resulting in a spacious, airy, luxurious and highly sophisticated cabin.” The interior features seating for four in individual bucket seats. Also on board is a unique Interactive Surface Console that runs the length of the centre tunnel from the dash to the rear seats, comprised of a series of interconnecting touchscreens encased in transparent acrylic glass. It allows occupants to upload pictures, video and sound files from their mobiles and share them with other passengers, as well as on social media channels. Users can flick information forward and rearward between the front and rear passengers. Jaguar designer Ian Callum won Designer of the Year honours in 2013.
BMW’s i3 took top spot for production vehicles, for “heralding a new era in electric mobility” and marking the creation of a new sub-brand within the BMW Group. “The exterior of the i3 is distinctive to the point that it looks like no other BMW vehicle before it,” said organizers. “The same can also be said for the stylish, upmarket but highly functional interior. The i3’s LifeDrive architecture, including the CFRP passenger compartment, has served to open new freedoms when it comes to the interior styling of the vehicle.”
The i3 features opposing coach doors with no B-pillars, making for particularly generous space and freedom of movement. The absence of a central tunnel opens up the footwells to further contribute to the impression of interior space.
Concept interior innovation awards went to Continental for its Simplify Your Drive system, which allows electric cars to learn how to calculate driving range before starting a journey.
The 2015 awards will be held June 16, 17 and 18 in Stuttgart, Germany.