This is The Owner's Manual: a limited series discussing some of the most stunning car designs and details on the road today – or, perhaps, ever. In this edition: interior elements that belong in a museum.
Editor's Note: Every car boasts an extremely considered look, but not every car is beautiful. However, certain details and designs sprinkled throughout the modern automotive world are so stunning that they can stand out on their own. Welcome to The Owner's Manual: a limited series discussing some of the most stunning car designs and details on the road today – or, perhaps, ever.
In this edition of The Owner's Manual, we're looking at four cars with innovative, futuristic and/or downright plush interior features. Plenty of others could be added to the list – what'd we miss?
We could publish volumes discussing Polestar's achingly beautiful design and materials choices, but maybe the best example of its premium looks is right at a driver's fingertips: the gear shifter in the Polestar 1, made from Swedish Orrefors crystal. It takes a full two days to make just one Orrefors shifter. First, the glass is melted at around 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit, a process that takes 16 hours. A newly made shifter spends its first night on a conveyor belt in order to cool evenly and prevent tension in the material lest it becomes too brittle and prone to shattering. Each shifter is handmade by a glassblower and later "flame polished" to remove imperfections. The crafting, cutting and polishing process takes another full day. Of all the materials we regularly see in cars, hand-made crystal centerpieces are both extremely unique and bound to stand the test of time.
The forthcoming EQS is literally science fiction come to life. Rewatch your favorite Sci-Fi thrillers from the past decade and you'll frequently find outrageously futuristic shapes like this piloted by Will Smith and Tom Cruise. The aesthetic continues apace inside the cabin, where among many other elements an optional 56-inch curved glass "Hyperscreen" takes center stage. It's actually three displays in one, including the instrument cluster, central OLED touchscreen and separate passenger display, but the group flows together in one strikingly cohesive unit. It's the largest display to ever grace a Mercedes, and among the biggest ever, anywhere. Its computers are wildly powerful (at least way more so than the old tape deck in your Camry) and feature haptic feedback, voice recognition and biometric authentication. The Hyperscreen is an impressive visual feat, and though it wouldn't be fun to repair, replace or even keep fingerprint-free, no doubt it'll be a popular option.
The Range Rover is all-new for 2022, and with it, among many other upgrades, comes a reimagining of the iconic SUV's familiar shape. It's more streamlined, with fewer body panels and finer overhangs and a bolder but gentler grille. On SV trim models, customers are able to personalize paint colors, upholstery and more – including trim materials. One material option is polished white ceramic, which lives on touchpoints like the shifter and HVAC knobs and in the SV roundel emblazoned on its tailgate. The ceramic trim is cool to the touch and is so perfectly polished that it resembles an infinity pool of milk (in a good way). The juxtaposition of such delicate materials in such a hulking vehicle simply screams luxury.
Including the surreally over-the-top Phantom Gallery here is almost cheating. Few car interior personalizations are this intensely luxurious, so we'd be remiss for not including it. The Phantom Gallery is a section of the Phantom sedan's "fascia" (commoners would call this a "dashboard") that was "conceived to house bespoke artistic creations." It's literally a large swath of crystal clear glass that encloses, protects and displays curated and commissioned "fine and contemporary art. A gallery that exhibits and reflects the tastes, desires and personalities of our patrons." To launch the feature, Rolls-Royce commissioned seven artists to create bespoke works, including an intricate porcelain sculpture based on roses cultivated exclusively for Rolls and a machined and polished aluminum sculpture that recreates the shape of a piece of silk gently pulled through a tank of water. It's gobsmacking something like the Phantom Gallery exists, and we couldn't love it more if we tried.