2013 Scion FR-S: Signposts to Confusion
August 31, 2012
When you're driving, you glance at the instruments. A glance should be all it takes to assess the health of the machinery thrashing away nearby.
That's why analog instruments work so well. They give you the information if you look closely because you know where the needle lies within the scale, and they also give you the information in an instant because the needle lies in the expected place.
Someone should let the Scion guys know, because the FR-S's instrument layout looks like the signpost from hell, with the needles all pointing in different directions.
A thoughtful instrument layout aligns the instruments so the all the needles align in the much the same direction, so your eye quickly recognizes if one is out of place and trouble lies ahead. When I look down at the FR-S's instruments, it always takes too long to figure out what's happening.
True, the tach and speedo needles line up at top speed, but by then I'm usually too scared to look down anyway. And all the different shapes and the different ways the needles swing just add to the confusion.
This is what happens when designers try to deliver the answer without knowing what the question is.
Instruments are information, not just random graphic gestures. It's wonderful when they look great and lend a sense of occasion to the interior and all those other clichés that are applied to interior design, but they also must work for a living.
Maybe I should relax, just like the guy I share a race car with. He just never looks down. He says that if there's something going wrong with the car, the smoke and flame will probably get his attention.
Michael Jordan, Executive Editor, Edmunds.com