Can ‘timeless’ also mean ‘dull’? It can when describing the interior of the Sportback. All the usual things that instantly annoy about poorly planned interiors – those tacked-on pieces of ill-advised trim, the irritatingly alternative typeface on the dials, the occasional invisible button, the slightly displaced driving position and the odd blind spot in your vision around the car – are all absent.
Instead, you’re presented with an interior with a design cleanliness to bring a tear of nostalgia to the eye of a retired heart surgeon. There’s nothing superfluous here, no eye-catching gimmicks to divert your attention from some more fundamental failing. In simple ergonomic terms, this cabin is close to perfect.
You can see how Audi has distilled once-separate elements of design into single concentrates. The fuel gauge and water temperature gauges now form part of the arc of the revcounter and speedometer respectively. The MMI control system for navigation (if fitted), media, radio and information systems has boiled down to one rotary knob and two switches. All the ventilation controls are laid out in a single line. In terms of pure ergonomic efficiency, it’s something of a landmark.
But in terms of providing occupants with surprise and delight features to brighten up your journey, it would score a big, fat zero were it not saved by the way the colour display screen disappears into the dash when not in use. That aside, this interior is as straight-laced as the UN Security Council Christmas party.