Special Coverage

Auto Interiors Conference

In the 1987 movie “Wall Street,” a flustered Bud Fox asks Gordon Gekko, “How many boats can you water ski behind?” in an attempt to learn just how much money was enough for a greedy billionaire arbitrageur.

A similar question could be asked of Audi AG: “How much better can you make your interiors?”It’s easy to redo an old, mediocre interior and then take a bow for creating a new masterpiece. But exactly what do you do to improve interiors already benchmarked as the industry’s best?

Because the bar already is set so high for Audi, and designers solved this riddle so well with the ’09 A4, Ward’s editors felt compelled to single it out for a Best Redesign award.

Without tampering with success too much, Audi has created smoother-flowing surfaces and a new modular driver space that is more like a cockpit, with the center stack, gauges and controls now canted toward the driver.

Superb design and much improved ergonomics create a first impression of technical sophistication and functionality that also is warm and welcoming.

Luscious soft-touch surfaces are everywhere, and wood and metallic trim feed the senses and signal now more than ever that you are driving a premium sedan.

Designers also took advantage of the new car’s bigger footprint to lengthen overall interior space 0.8 ins. (0.2 cm), increase rear knee room 1.4 ins. (3.6 cm) as well as increase leg, head and shoulder room.

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From the careful way designers matched material and textures on the A-pillar to the headliner, to the more convenient positioning of the man/machine interface knob on the center console, judges loved every minute of their time in the new A4.

The car’s top marks in safety from the National Highway Traffic Safety Admin. and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety are more icing on the cake.

Certainly, there have been more dramatic interior designs in recent history, but none has been saddled with such huge expectations to make a superlative interior even better.

It is change even a jaded billionaire arbitrageur could appreciate.

dwinter@wardsauto.com