In brief: Traditional vehicle instrument panels are slowly being phased out in some vehicles, and Mercedes upcoming 2021 S-Class sedan will be one of the latest examples of this trend. When the vehicle enters full production, it will ship out to customers with a massive, 13-inch OLED touchscreen infotainment system, which replaces dozens of ordinary buttons -- 27, to be precise.
Mercedes hasn't offered a comprehensive list of all the physical buttons its new touchscreen (called the Mercedes-Benz User Experience, or MBUX) is replacing, but to name a few examples, things like climate control, music playback, and radio adjustments will be all-digital starting with the 2021 S-Class.
The carmaker says this screen is the most advanced infotainment panel that's ever been implemented into one of its vehicles. It can be configured with cameras for facial recognition (which enables various extra features), it has haptic feedback technology, and it supports voice and fingerprint authentication measures for boosted security. You can even scan QR codes and make digital payments from the display.
You can have up to four of these screens in a 2021 S-Class -- three in the backseats, and one in the front. Mercedes says both back and frontseat passengers will have access to most of the same comfort and infotainment features, though we expect some functionality to be limited to just the driver.
If you do opt for multiple screens, you'll be able to share content between displays easily, though Mercedes did not specify what sort of content will support this feature.
Another major change arriving under the MBUX umbrella is the new augmented reality instrument panel. At the touch of a button, the vehicle's digital instrument panel can be converted into a 3D heads-up display, allowing for a "spatial view" without the need for 3D glasses or other special equipment.