Added: 23 August 2017

New car buyers are placing huge importance on the interiors of their next purchases – ahead of price, exterior styling and fuel economy, according to research by What Car?

In its latest survey, What Car? polled some 4,000 consumers on their major new car buying priorities.  Comfort and refinement led the way, with 56% of those polled stating that a relaxing and quiet driving environment was crucial.  Almost as important was the quality of finish (55%), ahead of price (54%), exterior styling (47%) and fuel economy (44%).

Next on the list of priorities was interior styling and design, with 35% citing this as a key criteria that influences a new purchase, ahead of brand (34%) and depreciation (25%).  However, just 19% of drivers rated connectivity (such as Bluetooth, Wi-Fi) as a crucial factor when buying new (almost the same as CO2 emissions – 15%), indicating that when it comes to life inside the car, ambiance is streets ahead.

“We all have busy lives, so it’s easy to jump into our cars and forget just how much time we spend behind the wheel, whether it’s commuting or taking kids to school,” What Car? Editor Steve Huntingford said.  “But what isn’t easy to overlook is comfort or good design – and that’s exactly what drivers are saying in this new research.

“Against a backdrop of data that shows the average motorist can spend more than a day of his or her life every year stuck in traffic jams, it’s clear that enjoying the space you are in is very important.  Drivers are telling us that interior quality, comfort, refinement and overall design are crucial factors when deciding which new car to purchase – in some cases more so than price and exterior design.

“There’s a real feeling from this survey that being relaxed and surrounded by premium materials, insulated from the outside world, is a key part of the driving experience – and a reason to choose one car over another.  With that in mind, we’ve picked out the best interiors for every class of car, with an overall winner for each category.  There’s something for everyone here and one thing is for sure – car makers have got incredibly good at giving buyers beautifully-designed and built interiors, even on cars that don’t cost the earth.”