The refreshed Mercedes-Benz E-Class arrives in summer 2020. It offers a new-generation all-digital steering wheel with capacitive hands-off detection.
A two-zone sensor in the rim registers whether the driver is holding the steering wheel. No more steering movement is required to signal the assistance systems that the vehicle is under control.
The Touch Control buttons in the spokes are capacitive too. The seamless control panels are divided into several functional areas. They are precisely integrated flush with the spokes. Mercedes has designed the buttons for temperatures of over 100°C.
The sensors record and evaluate touches enabling intuitive operation via swiping gestures and pressing of familiar symbols. The system automatically recognizes where the finger is at any given moment.
The new steering wheel is available in three versions: Sport, Luxury and Supersport.
In the Luxury version, the spokes form a chalice inspired by Callas flowers.
In the Supersport variant, it is held by two double-decker spokes in black panel design, reminiscent sports cars’ wheel wing nuts.
Mercedes-Benz has developed fixed sizes for steering wheels – 270-280 mm depending on the version. The steering wheel rim is 29 mm wide and 42 to 44 mm deep.
The company’s Creative Director of Interior Design Hans-Peter Wunderlich says,
The steering wheel rim is the secret kingmaker of a steering wheel. Its geometric design is a science in itself that cannot be found in any textbook. The wreath must fit snugly in the hand. If it is a millimetre too much, it feels unpleasantly bulging. If it’s a millimetre too little, it feels like it’s starved. And that impression then clouds the overall feel of the car.
Interestingly, the first car in the world to feature Touch Control buttons on the steering wheel was the 2016 Mercedes-Benz E-Class.