Sorry, but I'm going to fight that. Find a Merc C-class (current model, before the facelift that's about to hit the market - I gather they 'upgraded' the interior for the occasion), look at the inside door handles and tell me that that particular piece wouldn't attract some major flak from observers if it were bolted to a Daewoo Nubira. It's that dire. Oh, and the optional leather upholstery on the Classic model is/was only leather on the central part of the seat facings. Not only the seatbacks, but also the complete side 'bolsters' (they're not really bolstered, but I don't know a better word to cover that area) are vinyl. On a 40,000 euro Merc, for crying out loud!Originally posted by MarkA:
The plastics in this area are incredibly cheap, flimsy and poor quality.. I've seen the same in top of the range 9-5 aeros and 9-3 viggens.. you do not see plastics of this quality in Audis/Mercs/BMWs..[/b]
Yes, the areas shown on the pictures aren't pretty, but sadly they're symptomatic for current car models, even the 'higher end' ones. VW has been an exception so far - but they have problems on their own. The Golf IV might have had the classiest interior with the highest perceived quality - but it was also the most expensive and least reliable in the class.
As profitability of car manufacturers has been on a downward slope for years, product lifecycles got shortened from 6-8 years to four, maybe five; geovernments imposed ever-stricter safety and emissions standards and customers decided they wanted every creature comfort under the sun now without paying the premium, automotive industry suppliers - who are in competition as fiercely as car manufacturers themselves and mostly rely on the business they get from same for almost 100% - have been faced with cost cuttings that were partly in double digit percentage territory every year. As the margins weren't that great to begin with, it's easy to see something has had to give, and it's obvious that savings will preferably be made in areas that won't be that noticeable to the car buying public unless and util they're living with the cars on a day-to-day basis... So your BMW's dashboard facia still looks very nice, solid and upmarket - only when you start to look at the lower dashboard, the center console area between seats (in this respect, maybe it wasn't so smast of Saab to put the keyhole back there to begin with ) et cetera, you begin to notice the things that Mark has caught with his photo lense.
I've been in and out a couple of hundred new cars for a living for the past five years or so, and it does strike me somewhat how cheap and tacky cars - even expensive ones - seem to be put together these days. Lift the bonnet on your metallic green 3-series and find the entire engine bay is in khaki/green primer. Not very impressive, huh? But I'm a car nut and a technical editor with some insight into the car indsutry, suppliers, production methods et al, where the average consumer isn't. So does it matter? Apparently not, otherwise we would have been given the option of nicely built, tactile, but 'sparsely' equipped cars by the car industry. The only place you find cars like that is within the stratosphere of handbuilt exotics, e.g. Donkervoort, Spyker, Aston Martin (to some extent).