The most luscious cabins in the industry do battle.
It may seem like a relatively straightforward category, but there are quite a few factors to consider here, and it's not necessarily the most expensive or most opulent cabin that will bag top honors. That being said, it remains a foregone conclusion that our finalists will include some of the most exorbitantly priced cars on the planet. So what are we looking for, exactly?
Well, luxury, technology, and great ergonomics all play a role, which means that a car that impresses us by being more special than you'd expect for its price is just as strong a contender as a car that costs well over six figures. Last year, the Rolls-Royce Ghost took the crown from the Bentley Continental GT, and this year, both British brands are among the nominees. We've considered the Rolls-Royce Dawn, Bentley's Bentayga and Continental GT Speed, the Grand Wagoneer, and the Mercedes-Benz EQS, but none of these made the cut. In no particular order, here are our finalists for 2021's Best Interior award.
When you see a new S-Class, its exterior design matters little. What you really want to know about is all the new technology, and the S-Class is famous for debuting some brilliant interior design solutions. The 2021 model features an all-new design, and all models get multi-contour seats with massaging. Synthetic leather is simply not luxurious enough for this car, and the surfaces not covered in top-notch cowhide are finished in either real wood or aluminum. Even the plastics are pleasing to the touch, although you'll struggle to find them anywhere but on some controls.
Besides loads of legroom and luxurious materials, you also get heated and ventilated seats, air purification, side-window sunshades, soft-close doors with hands-free access, individual climate zones, and even the option of reclining rear seats with a power footrest. A large digital screen handles driver info while another measuring 12.8 inches is mounted vertically and boasts OLED technology. Wireless smartphone connectivity, high-quality Burmester audio options, and rear-seat entertainment screens are all offered, but Merc's impeccable build quality is also part of why it makes this list.
Say what you will about the way it looks outside, but the Cullinan has an interior that is truly special. Now, you might be looking at the images and thinking that the infotainment screen is too small at 10.25 inches, but it's remarkably well balanced. Instead of fitting a massive display to attract dust and fingerprints, you have a simple but effective dash with plenty of satisfying knobs and dials and buttons. Even seemingly inconsequential items like the turn signal indicator have been carefully refined, with this not even making a hint of noise when it self-cancels.
Of course, the materials are exemplary, and the noise insulation is unparalleled. Like the S-Class, a ride that feels akin to floating on a cloud is part of why this cabin is so lovely, but features like suicide rear doors (for easier ingress and egress) that can close at the touch of a button add a level of flair and aristocracy that few other brands can dream of achieving. Add in the Shooting Star illuminated headliner, the four-zone climate control system, and a premium audio system with 16 speakers, and this is a cabin you never want to climb out of.
Lynch us if you must, but the Genesis G80 demands to be on this list. A car that has class-leading luxury, outstanding design, and smart ergonomics is just as important as leather from cows that get daily massages and are fed like kings. Open the door and you get a look at a cabin that blends leather, wood, and metal to perfection. The button for the emergency hazard lights is a work of art on its own, and everywhere you look, you can see a clear theme of minimalism and quality. A large 14.5-inch touchscreen display is perched atop the dash in a way that doesn't look like an afterthought, a 3D 12.3-inch driver display gives you all the necessary info in a classy manner, and the switches are beautifully knurled.
You also get offered features that you might not expect at this price point, including power-closing doors, heated rear seats, power rear sunshades, a Lexicon premium audio system with 21 speakers, and even Nappa leather. A good balance of interior space for both rows counts in the G80's favor too, but we were most impressed by the slim air vents integrated into the dash, the smart storage options, the tactile knobs, buttons, and dials, and the generally excellent ergonomic layout. The fact that everything feels super expensive is a bonus, and this is certainly worthy of being a finalist this year.