by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte
e-mail: mercedesbenzblog@gmail.com

The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Control and display concept - Elegant new control centre

Two high-resolution TFT colour displays in 8:3 format with a screen diagonal of 30.7 cm (12.3 inches) form the new information centre in the S‑Class. The left-hand display performs the functions of the previous instrument cluster, providing the driver with all relevant information. The right-hand display allows the convenient control of infotainment and comfort functions. Ergonomics, operating convenience and safety along with attractiveness and aesthetics were the main considerations for the newly designed control and display concept.

For the S-Class, the constantly increasing need to integrate additional functions into the vehicle led to a further development of the entire operating logic. The aim in designing the control and display features was to group controls and display functions together in a coherent manner in terms of both design and functionality. Apart from the new displays, the metallised switch surfaces and solid aluminium controls are visual highlights of particularly high quality. Thanks to the fine structuring on the metal surfaces, each individual control has the sound, feel and attention to detail that make Mercedes-Benz something very special.

The well-proven Mercedes-Benz operating philosophy with a multifunction steering wheel, DIRECT SELECT transmission selector lever and COMAND Controller in the centre console has been retained. The engineers have, however, taken a new approach with the large high-resolution display depicting the instrument cluster, a display area showing the driving assistance systems next to the rotary light switch and a new position for the cruise control stalk, on the left below the combination switch for the wipers and indicators.

With Mercedes-Benz COMAND Online the customer is now able to adapt the contents of the central display to personal requirements. With the exception of the navigation map (which always fills the complete display area), the central display is divided into a main area (2/3 on the right of the screen) and an additional area (1/3 on the left side of the screen). In standard configuration the additional area shows supplementary information about the selected main application, e.g. if the radio function is active, the artist and song title are shown, or the current channel in the case of TV. If required, it is also possible to permanently display a preferred content item in the additional area, for example a small navigation map, fuel consumption display, data connection display or entertainment information. High-quality visualisation and animations make for easy control: changes to the settings for the climate control or seats, for instance, are immediately visible and therefore easy to follow.

The two screen displays have a "Corona" for effect, making the display appear to be floating in space. This lighting can be individualised in seven colours as an option. Like the switch and controls illumination, the brightness can be adjusted using a rotary control between the instrument cluster and central display. Optionally, individual brightness levels can be set for the different lighting zones in the vehicle interior using the vehicle functions of the COMAND Online system.

The new instrument cluster: important information at a glance

The architecture of the instrument cluster in the S-Class signals a new departure for Mercedes-Benz. For the first time a large TFT colour display with a screen diagonal of 30.7 cm (12.3 inches) in 8:3 format is used to display driver information. The large screen provides much more scope with respect to the presentation of contents, animation of displays and vehicle-related information, especially where the onboard assistance functions are concerned. The design of the two large dial instruments showing the vehicle speed (left) and rpm (right) follows the classic style. The menu for "Journey", "Navigation" and "Media" and the relevant sub-menus accessible between the two dial instruments are also familiar in principle, and are operated using the steering wheel function keys as before.

The central area between the dial instruments shows the driving assistance systems. When they intervene, the actions of systems such as DISTRONIC PLUS, Stop&Go Pilot, Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist are notified to the driver by visualisation. The image from Night View Assist Plus is now also shown between the two instruments, where it is easily visible. In the process the circular scales of the two displays are reduced to three-quarter circles with revised scaling to provide the largest possible area for the camera image. In the central area of the display the driver also receives visual support when searching for a parking space. Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC shows recognised parking spaces (left/right, parallel or end-on parking) and guides the driver through the parking procedure. The graphics in this display resemble actual perspective views rather than two-dimensional images from above. Recognised speed limits and any supplementary signs are now shown in the speedometer for easy visibility.

Mercedes customers will find the classic displays and warning lamps easy to recognise. The distance information for the front PARKTRONIC sensors (left/right) is shown at the top, between the two dial instruments. Above this are the control lamps for the indicators/hazard warning system, lighting functions (parking lights, high beam, fog lamps, low beam) and the distance warning. The outside temperature is shown in the centre at the top. The fuel gauge showing the volume in percent is located in the speedometer (6 o'clock position), and the speedometer also accommodates the control lamps for the ESP® functions, ABS, the warning lamps for the airbags (SRS – Supplemental Restraint System), the seat belts and the tyre pressure monitoring system. The coolant temperature appears in the 6 o'clock position in the rev counter, which also shows the current transmission mode, automatic transmission gear and the function displays for the electric parking brake, brake lining wear indicator and engine diagnosis.

Support for the driver: the ECO display

If required, three bar charts in the instrument cluster give the driver feedback about the economy of their driving style. The ECO display responds positively if the driver accelerates moderately, drives smoothly in an anticipatory manner and avoids unnecessary braking. The three bar readings stand at 100% if driving is particularly economical according to these criteria. When starting off all the values are at 50 percent, and a particularly unfavourable driving style causes them to decline. The aim is to arouse a competitive desire in the driver to achieve 100 percent if possible.

Central display: the control centre for infotainment and comfort

An all-new COMAND Online generation has its world premiere in the new S-Class. It excels with intuitive operation and the immediacy of its functions, thanks to animated menus and images on a large display (12.3 inches) in 8:3 format with a resolution of 1440 x 540 pixels. For video and TV reproduction a part of the screen corresponding to the 16:9 format is used.

The large display is used for animations and 3D effects. An additional area on the display simplifies operation with a context-related representation of the current application or permanent display of the navigation map, for example, or – in the case of models with hybrid drive – a display of the hybrid functions showing the energy flow.

The animated high-resolution display concept is particularly impressive where the Digital Owner's Manual for COMAND Online is concerned. Depending on the level of appointments, there is a context-sensitive display of the contents for the individual vehicle, and even retrofits are taken into account.

Operation: touch-sensitive telephone keypad, extended voice control, two different remote controls

The new control features include a touch-sensitive telephone keypad and an extended favourites function with twelve freely selectable memory places. The principal control element is the rotary pushbutton, with the usual direct access keys in the centre console for the most important functions.

Voice entry using LINGUATRONIC via the Speech Dialog System allows complete addresses to be spoken in one go, for example (one-shot input). The telephone and audio systems can also be voice-controlled. The option of having text messages (SMS) or emails read out is a new feature. Polish and Finnish are newly available languages, and Arabic is now fully supported.

The new COMAND Online also comes with two remote control variants:

- basic remote control (high-quality unit with chrome)

- iPhone®/Android app with remote control function via WLAN

Apart from showing and operating the COMAND Online functions (internet browsing, reading and writing SMS and email, internet radio, Mercedes-Benz services), the telephony functions, navigation, radio and TV plus the sound systems (see "Multimedia features" section), the central display shows and operates the many comfort functions, some of which are new. They include:

- Multifunction seats (contour and ENERGIZING massage function with programmes), settings

- Seat heating Plus

- Air conditioning, perfume atomisation, ionisation, panel heating

- Vehicle functions (ambient lighting in seven colours, locator lighting)

Credits: Daimler AG

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