At CES Asia this week, Volkswagen showed off a new prototype vehicle, the Golf R Touch. This featured a new all-touch design for their console. Split across two displays, the vehicle controls like seat positions, window controls, infotainment, and even vehicle telemetry like tyre pressures are all a touch away. While the shiny red vehicle on stage will never ship to market as is, the big news is the move away from buttons, switches, knobs and dials.
Other vehicle manufacturers continue to say their customers love physical buttons, Volkswagen are leaving behind the past and joining the likes of Tesla Motors in moving to touch. When you understand the customisations per country that are necessary with physical controls, it’s easy to see why companies are moving to software-based controls.
The two screens in the Golf R Touch are very different. The top screen is a full capacitive touch display, similar to a tablet, while the lower display is a black and white touch panel which gives you touch control over your vehicle. For moving between tracks, or adjusting the climate control, this makes a lot of sense.
When asked why they didn’t just opt for a larger, single display, Volkswagen said it’s simply to keep costs down. The size of the displays may vary between models. The horizontal bar between the displays is actually functional and not just a design aesthetic. This can be used to adjust things like volume just by dragging your finger left or right.
Below are some photos of the interface which looks really well designed and even includes a fully interactive 3D model of your vehicle. The UI looks high resolution, but touch points large enough for selection with a fingertip, even on a bumpy road. Volkswagen aren’t saying exactly when we’ll see this in vehicles, but did confirm this prototype is not designed as a one off, this is a company direction, they are moving away from buttons and dials and are all-in on touch.
The only exception to that rule is the steering wheel which will continue to have quick access to take a call, change the volume and skip tracks.