Mercedes-Benz E-Class adds new infotainment interface
Issue Date: 2015-12-16

Mercedes-Benz is taking a big step into the future by numerous innovations with the new E-Class, including in terms of the design of the interior, which features a wide high-resolution next-generation dual display (12.3 inches per display) that appears to hover in space. In addition, touch-sensitive control buttons on the steering wheel make their first appearance in a car. They allow the driver to control the entire infotainment system using finger swipes without having to take their hands off the steering wheel.

Wide dual display can be configured to suit personal preferences

The eye-catcher in the comfort-oriented, luxurious interior of the new E-Class is two displays each with a 31.2 cm (12.3-inch) screen diagonal and a resolution of 1920 x 720 pixels. These merge visually to form a wide-screen cockpit, thus acting as a central element to emphasise the horizontal bias of the interior design of the new E-Class. As the instrument cluster, this wide-screen cockpit contains a large display with virtual instruments in the direct field of vision of the driver as well as a central display above the centre console. A common glass cover results in a modern flat-screen look. The driver can choose between three different styles to select their preferred screen design for the wide-screen instrument cluster: "Classic", "Sport" and "Progressive".

The wide-screen instrument cluster is optionally available with COMAND Online. Instead, the entry-level model of the new E-Class combines two tube-type round dials and a 17.8 cm colour display cluster (1000 x 600-pixel resolution) with a central display with a 21.3 cm screen diagonal (960 x 540-pixel resolution). The round dials, instrument cluster and central display are installed in a single frame with a high-gloss piano-lacquer look.

The driver can adapt the content of the central display to suit their personal preferences. With the exception of the navigation map (which always fills the complete display area), the graphic content of the central display of COMAND Online is divided into a main area for informative graphics and animations (2/3 on the right side of the display) and a supplementary area (1/3 on the left side of the display).

The display can be backlit at night with multicolour ambience lighting – which then makes the wide-screen cockpit appear to float in space.

Touch control: finger swipes

In a further innovation, the new E-Class is the first ever car to integrate touch control buttons in the spokes of the multifunction steering wheel. Like the surface of a smartphone, the buttons are touch-sensitive and therefore respond precisely to horizontal and vertical finger swipes. This enables the driver to control every function of the infotainment system in the same simple, logical and intuitive manner as with a smartphone without having to take their hands off the steering wheel. Having selected the desired function with a swipe, the driver presses the appropriate touch control button to trigger the function. Another four buttons in each switch panel are provided with the familiar functions, such as for volume control and telephone control.

A further input option, familiar from the C-Class, is offered by the touchpad on the centre console. This, too, allows all functions to be controlled by single or multi-finger gestures (multitouch). The touchpad also permits letters, numbers and special characters to be entered in handwriting. Having recognised the handwritten characters, the system reads them out to enable blind operation without the driver having to divert their attention from what is happening on the road. A handrest detection feature makes for added operating safety while helping to prevent incorrect inputs. Three touch-sensitive buttons are arranged behind the touchpad and can be used to operate key functions quickly and directly (back function, switch to favourites menu, audio quick menu).

In addition to the touch control buttons and the touchpad, the driver can use the COMAND controller and LINGUATRONIC voice control to control the infotainment system. They can choose at any time which input method they prefer.

The new E-Class can also be controlled by direct buttons, such as for controlling the air-conditioning system or – in another first – for simple activation/deactivation of certain driver assistance systems.

New control experience

The goal in developing the all-new control and display concept was to closely unite intuitiveness of use with functionally expressive yet attractive design. The result is that passengers in the E-Class can enjoy a new control experience with high-resolution visualisations and animations. The developers have focused on the use of newly implemented presentation and display techniques to make it easier – i.e. more intuitive – for the driver to register and experience information. For example, animated displays are used to show the mode of action of assistance systems, or of DYNAMIC SELECT. The likewise animated ECO display in the instrument cluster helps the driver to adopt an economical driving style in an easily understandable manner.

The new look also comes with a novel, clearer menu structure that makes functions easier to select and which, in many cases, leads efficiently to the desired outcome in a manner appropriate to the situation. Ergonomics and intuitiveness of use were key criteria for the developers.

With user experience and connectivity ever more in the spotlight, Mercedes-Benz has set up two new departments to address the digital future: "Digital Graphic & Corporate Design" and "User Interaction". These centres are closely networked for designing the control and display concepts, i.e. the user interface, for current and future vehicles. This is because, alongside a workplace and private environment, the vehicle interior is increasingly becoming a "third place", a living area in which passengers wish to enjoy contemporary luxury. With the new department, Daimler is responding to the global trend of "Digital & Connected Life" and thus the rapid advance of digitalisation in all areas of life.