Does The New Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W223) Interior Design Has Serious Problems?

Mercedes-Benz has finally revealed the interior design of the next-generation S-Class W223. Typically, the features you would see inside one S-Class model would be very similar ten years later on subsequent models, including safety technologies such as ESP and the pre-crash system. This time, Mercedes have broken the mould.

The brand is pushing the boundaries with its functionality, with touch-sensitive buttons or tiny touch screens included in its new model for the seat climate controls. The centre console of this S-Class is akin to the likes of the Audi A8, the Tesla Model S, and the Range Rover. There is a complete absence of physical buttons; now you control everything via a state-of-the-art touch screen. It is very much reminiscent of an iPad experience; however, it can be difficult to alter the aircon temperature, for example, whilst you are driving. The lack of real feedback of a physical button when using the touch screen is a concern, and this is a well-known issue.

The S-Class has taken the touch screen control to an entirely new dimension, with even the controls for seat temperature being controlled in this way! Heating and cooling controls for seats used to be psychical buttons. Notably, the Audi A8 still has these, which I consider to be the optimal experience. Now, if you wish to heat your seat, you have to look at the button area to see whether you are touching the correct one; otherwise, you can quickly cool down your seat on a cold winter drive!

Physical buttons allow us to gauge the pressure we apply to the button, and also how many times we have pressed it. These would be much more practical for users when in the motion of driving – something Mercedes have overlooked.

Regrettably, addiction to touch screens will increase the opportunity for a new type of accident. Until now, we haven’t experienced accidents due to driver distraction from touch screen controls, but this could be on the horizon with drivers of cars like this model having to overt their eyes from the road to manage the screen controls. Pre-crash technology systems may prevent such accidents, but there is no need to invent a new type of accident when the existing solutions work perfectly.

Images // Daimler AG


Mercedes-Benz New MBUX Technical Details

Mercedes-Benz recently revealed their next-generation user interface system for the upcoming S-Class. I didn’t have a chance to try the system, so my assumptions are based upon what I have observed from press releases and others’ experience.

Since the Tesla Model S was launched, there has been a trend to remove all buttons from the dashboard, instead of replacing all controls via a touchscreen glass panel. On paper, it is a great way of minimising the clutter of buttons on the dashboard, whilst upholding a current on-trend aesthetic that is technologically savvy. Undeniably, it also looks great from a design perspective; who doesn’t admire Bauhaus (form follows function)?

By removing all necessary physical buttons and replacing them with a touch screen also created a new source for vehicle accidents; I crashed while I was trying to adjust the climate control temperature.

This problem is ousted by Mercedes-Benz’s voice-activated technology. The system assumes that people will say something and the car will simply understand; wishful thinking? There are so many accent and sentence structures, it is extremely challenging for a computer to understand what we want. You can also control everything from the interior buttons and knobs whilst driving, therefore it is very easy and safe.

Of course, Mercedes-Benz didn’t simply release a funky user interface. They introduced probably the best navigation system launched yet. By implementing augmented reality into the front screen, the navigation system will show arrows and provide direction directly from the windscreen, placing them at the correct points, instead of telling you ‘turn right after 200 meters’.

I loved the augmented reality navigation system and, likely, other manufacturers and brands will soon follow suit. Admittedly, though, I am not in favour of buttonless dashboards. These will only act to increase accidents and distract people. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if operating a touch screen dashboard is a violation of traffic law. Yes, we need touch screens but not for everything. A hybrid approach would be more optimal than a smartphone approach. What is essentially copying and pasting a smartphone experience into a 2-tone metal object that can travel up to 250 km/h is not the way to move forward.

Here is the technical details of the MBUX (next generation S-Class W223):
Display: 1888 x 1728 resolution, 12.8-inch and 200-ppi (pixel-per-inch) (Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max: 458-ppi)
Storage: 320 GB SSD
Memory: 16 GB RAM with 41,790 MB/sec (bandwidth)
Over-the-air updates

Images // Daimler AG