Say what you will about Volkswagen, but it's always had functional interiors with a straightforward dashboard design and intuitive controls. Well, that all changed when the eighth-generation Golf came out in 2019 as the folks from Wolfsburg decided to try something new with touch controls. We're not just talking about the finicky buttons on the steering wheel but also the touch slider below the infotainment to adjust the temperature.
The ID.3 also received this setup as well as models from other VW Group mainstream brands. In a brutally honest interview with Autocar, CEO Thomas Schäfer basically admitted touch controls have been a mistake. The man in charge of the VW core brand said touch controls "definitely did a lot of damage" and the company "had frustrated customers who shouldn't be frustrated." Thankfully, a fix is on the way as the German brand will get rid of the climate control sliders and haptic steering wheel buttons.
2024 Volkswagen Tiguan teasers
It should be noted that although VW recently gave the ID.3 a mid-cycle facelift, the compact electric hatchback still has the old layout. The first model to benefit from the revamped setup will be the next-generation Tiguan teased here in official images. In addition, the Golf Mk 8.5 and the wagon-only, Skoda-developed Passat B9 will adopt the new touch-less arrangement.
Look closer at the lower center console of the 2024 Tiguan and you'll see a rotary knob with a built-in OLED screen. It's for adjusting the volume and ambient lighting colors as well as for selecting the driving modes of the 4Motion Active Control system. Mind you, VW is not reverting to having many conventional controls inside their cars since nowadays it's all about putting large screens and cramming most of the functions inside the infotainment. In the Tiguan's case, it'll measure up to 15 inches to match the ID.7.
Generally speaking, automakers are moving away from button-heavy cabins in a bid to declutter their interiors to show less is more by going for the minimalist look. Schäfer says reworking VW's cabins required a "massive team" and took "quite a bit of time" to work through "an Excel spreadsheet as big as a room." He went on to say the company shouldn't confuse its customers by coming out with an entirely different interior concept whenever a new model is released.
The discussion didn't touch on improving materials inside the cabin amid criticism pertaining to cost-cutting measures that are most evident on the Golf. However, at the end of last year, VW Group chairman Oliver Blume promised a "quality offensive" and "clear design languages" to better differentiate the platform-sharing models. He also revealed the Golf and Tiguan nameplates will live on in the inevitable EV era.