Interior designers have the difficult task of finding a balance of modern design without being too far detached from that which we've become familiar with. This is exacerbated by the heavy use of touch displays and new alternative sustainable materials. Over the last decade, designs have gone both ways, from the ultra-minimal to the overly extravagant. Our top 5 picks below feature a bit of both.
BMW E89 Z4
Scott Osborne - Distribution Center Associate
The BMW E89 Z4 was the first BMW ever to be designed by two female designers, Juliane Blasi and Nadya Arnaout—we're focused only on is Arnaout's work on the interior, though. Designed all the way back in 2006, the E89 Z4 rolled out of the Regensburg plant for seven years, 2009 through 2016.
The E89 succeeded the E85 Z4, which has one of my personal favorite interiors of all time. What the Z4 has always been known for is a driver-focused cockpit without many distractions from the road in front of them. The E89 continued with this design philosophy, and it's clearly apparent. The small amount of "flash" that this interior has is cleverly placed below the driver's eye line, almost completely out of sight.
One of my personal favorite elements is how the armrest carries forward of the shifter and creates a separation from driver and passenger. It's almost as if to say, "this shifter belongs to the driver and is the main focus."
By today's standards, the E89's interior might seem simple or minimal, but to us, that's exactly what makes this one of the best of the decade.
Mercedes-AMG S65 Coupe & Sedan
Kyle Bascombe - Mercedes-Benz Catalog Manager
Mercedes very clearly embraces the fact that they are a luxury car brand—and the interior of the S65 AMG is the perfect example of this.
Inside the S65 AMG, you'll find numerous different materials, aluminum, carbon fiber, multiple types of leather, and all with their own unique patterns. Surrounded by the various materials are two substantial screens for the driver to focus on packaged into one seamless housing. One screen is dedicated as gauges, while the other serves as the infotainment system.
One of the key features that I appreciate more than any with this design is the existence of physical controls directly within reach of the driver. Like many other manufacturers, Mercedes could have opted for complete touch-based controls. But who wants to fumble around a touch screen while trying to focus on the road ahead.
Volvo V90 Cross Country
Jacob Maller - Marketing Coordinator
When I think about Volvo, I immediately think of a car that stands the test of time. They seemingly go forever, and their interiors remain a comfortable place to be well past the car's prime. One of the ways that Volvo accomplishes this is by keeping things simple with a touch of luxury and the V90 Cross Country sticks to that sentiment.
Inside the hefty wagon, you'll find a basic combination of materials and a clean color palette. The dash is minimal and features a screen for the gauge cluster and a single vertical display for the infotainment system. Volvo cleverly offered the most used controls as physical buttons just below the infotainment screen without adding too much additional clutter.
With as minimalist as the design is, I believe it will be an attractive car on the used market many years from now.
Audi RS6 Avant
Adam Goral - Volvo Catalog Manager
The Audi RS6 Avant is making waves for its aggressive exterior design, but it's easily just as attractive inside as it is on the outside.
Audi carried the sharp lines from the exterior inside. Sleek aluminum trim lines accentuate the shapes of everything, from the screens to the vents, and straight back through the door panels. And speaking of screens, the RS6 doesn't have just one or two, it has three separate screens. One is a massive digital gauge cluster, one the infotainment, and the third is dedicated to the intricate heating and cooling system.
Like many of the other companies, Audi makes use of multiple materials and patterns in such a way that they all complement one another. Aluminum, carbon fiber, various leather colors with different patterns all work seamlessly with one another to create one of the most tastefully modern car interiors out right now.
Porsche 991 911 GT2 RS
Andre Douaihy - Customer Service Advisor
It'd be impossible to create this list without a Porsche 911 with the GT designation. A good sports car interior is all about the driver, and the 991 911 GT2 RS is about as driver-focused as you can get while still having all of the creature comforts you could want in a road car. Both the driver and passenger sit in deep carbon fiber bucket seats and separated by a tall center console lined with physical switches for everything from driving modes to radio controls.
Behind the steering wheel, you will find both analog and digital gauges that offer the best of both worlds. Most of the interior is lined with carbon fiber and Alcantara accents—which carry through the stitching and trim pieces throughout the car.
The only thing that could make this interior better would be the addition of an h-pattern shifter.
This is part four of our "picks of the decade." Previously we featured everyone's picks for "wheel of the decade," "best engines of the decade," and our "best looking cars of the decade."
Do you agree or disagree with our choices? Let us know what car from the last decade looks the best in the comments below.
Writer/Editor at FCP Euro and owner of a daily R53 MINI Cooper, a track-built R53 MINI, and a 1997 Dakar Yellow E36 M3 Sedan. ••• Instagram: @evan.madore