Mercedes-Benz tweeted a photo the other day, and it’s been getting a lot of attention from the gearheads I know online because, well, look at it. Is this a screengrab Star Trek or some shit? Is someone piloting a Class-Whatever shuttle into a wormhole to try and bone some teal aliens? No, it’s just a night time picture of the new S-Class dashboard, lit up like Las freaking Vegas. Is this something people have been wanting?
Oh, it looks like Mercedes-Benz got all nervous and deleted the pic in that tweet after everyone was making fun of them, but no worries, I have a screenshot, so we can continue to make fun of them:
I mean, I get that there’s some appeal here; I know I’ve been on some long, boring, dark drives and I’ve allowed myself to pretend that all the little illuminated bits on the dash were the controls of my very own private spaceship — but that’s my own personal silly reverie, and when it comes down to actually driving, that scene that Mercedes is showing up there looks like a distracting electric shitshow shitactular shitstravaganza.
Is it beeping constantly, too? Because it looks like it should be.
Let’s look at this again:
I mean, look how much is going on here! Does anyone really need a door panel illuminated that much? Look at the glare on the windshield — it’s huge; how will that not be crazy distracting? And that overhead console neon horseshoe — what’s that doing for anyone?
This is noise, a lot of visual noise, a cacophony of light, and very little of it actually providing useful information. Does any of this make it any easier to find a particular control? Where’s the radio volume? The climate controls? The rear defroster?
Plus, look at the main instrument display, one of the “five screens, OLED displays, and 3D displays” — it’s still pretending to be old-school analogue gauges, and not actually taking advantage of the information design possibilities afforded by a matrix OLED screen.
Other companies are doing much more interesting things with their instrument displays as opposed to just making more, brighter ones, so maybe wake up, Mercedes.
I remember when the idea of minimizing visual light distractions for night driving was a feature on some cars — remember Saab’s Night Panel mode?
Saab, with their background in fighter jet design, understood that night vision works better when you have less bright light sources near your face, so they had a feature on a number of their cars that would turn off or significantly dim all but the minimum needed instruments. If anything needed your attention, it would light up, but otherwise, instrumentation was limited to the speedo.
That’s a feature that actually makes real sense. And while I’m sure there’s ways to dim that S-Class’ Times Square-like interior, it’s still pretty weird to see Mercedes pushing this as some sort of appealing feature.
I mean, I’m not exactly in Mercedes-Benzes demographic, since they kicked me out of dental school because that guy with the cuspid was such a liar, but whatever.